Tag Archives: novels

On Being Productive…and Those Days Where You Really Aren’t.

27 Sep

Inspired by the last week of my life¹, here are two lists: How to Ensure You Will Get Nothing Done and How to Get EVERYTHING Done.

Here goes.

How To Ensure You Will Get Nothing Done

  1. Sleep a LOT. Fall asleep on the couch, don’t set your alarm, and proceed to snuggle your pillow until your cat bites you into consciousness.
  2. Click EVERY link that looks interesting on Twitter. Don’t hold back.  Read everything immediately, leave novel-length comments, and generally peruse the internet at the speed of a poet in a field of dandelions.
  3. Once you’ve finished reading all those interesting posts, check Twitter again. Proceed to click every new link that looks interesting.  Rinse and repeat ad infinitum/ad nauseum.
  4. Say yes to everyone. When people ask you to do things, just say yes!  You have to eat lunch/have coffee/relax sometime, right?  Why not do it with someone else and double (maybe even TRIPLE!!) the time you would have spent doing those things alone??!
  5. Watch as much TV as possible. I’m talking Lone Star, Glee, The Biggest Loser, Survivor, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, and The Amazing Race. Side note: I did NOT watch all of these shows this week.  But, I like them all, so I was tempted.  Of those that I did watch, this clip from The Amazing Race is SO HILARIOUS and worth sharing.  Painful, painful, painful—but hilarious.

How To Get EVERYTHING Done

  1. Don’t deny yourself: just be wise. It kind of hurt me to write the above list because it’s so extreme.  None of those things are bad, in and of themselves.  It’s GOOD to get a healthy amount of sleep, to read links on Twitter and make new friends, to spend quality time with people, to watch some TV at the end of the day.  Denying yourself things you enjoy won’t make you more productive—you’ll probably just end up procrastinating with things you enjoy less.  Do things you enjoy, just try not to let them eat your day.  How?
  2. Have a clear idea about WHAT you need/want to accomplish. When you’re not sure where to begin, it’s easy to waste your own time.  Figure out what, specifically, you need to do.  A list of specific goals is a concrete thing to wrap your mind around and is essential toward making progress of any kind.  In my experience, it’s much easier to pull my head out of the clouds and get to work if I know where to begin.
  3. Have a clear idea WHY you need/want to do whatever it is you’re doing. Worthwhile goals usually take time and discipline to accomplish.  They are not always fun.  They are not always easy.  The WHY is your light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s also the steam for your little engine.  It’s the truth you come back to when things get hard and you forget why you started a project in the first place.  Know why you get up before the crack of dawn to write, why you allow yourself two TV shows per week instead of every show on the air, why you sacrifice like you do for your goal—you can come back to the why when things get hard.  When things get hard, it’s too easy to give in to what’s merely fun, while putting off the thing that’s a little more difficult, but worthwhile.  The WHY is essential.  Know yours.
  4. Pay attention to the clock. Not obsessively—just be aware of it.  You’re human: you have numerous passions and priorities, and like all other humans, a scant 24 hours/day to nurture them.  Know your priorities, know yourself, and get a feel for how long it takes you to do things.  Work hard, rest hard.
  5. Then (and this is the thing that seems easy, but isn’t always) DO. I realize this is a revolutionary concept and all—to be productive, you have to do stuff.  Stuff that helps your goal(s) move along, I should clarify.  It really is that simple, and it really is that difficult.  Silly brains, always convincing us we need to do the exact opposite of what’s on our agenda.  Go back to the WHATs and WHYs if when you feel stuck.
  6. Don’t beat yourself up. This is pretty much imperative in being productive.  Some days your focus will just be ornery.  You’ll have things on your heart and mind, or you’ll just be exhausted.  You try and try, but still—nothing.  Or, maybe you don’t try, and you ride the procrastination wave until it dumps you in the sand.  Some days will just be this way, and that’s okay.  The quickest way to have a more productive tomorrow is to just move on and try again, sans self-inflicted guilt trip.

Okay, I think that’s it.  I now raise my coffee mug in a toast to making the most of your time, whether we’re talking ten minutes or ten hours.  Happy productivity, y’all!

¹Which, if you’re new around here, has been completely out of the ordinary for me.  I’m taking a brief break before starting the fourth draft of my WIP, and my usual routine is all messed up.  I pretty much thrive on productivity, so being out of my routine feels very strange.

Advice You Really Should Take To Heart. (Not That It’s Easy.)

21 Sep

Things you don't really WANT to know, but kind of NEED to know. (See also: advice you really should take to heart.)

If you’ve been reading writing blogs for any decent amount of time, you are probably aware that your (somewhat) finished WIP comes with a warning label:

Once you finish your (first, second, third, thirtieth) draft, DO NOT PICK IT UP AND TRY TO EDIT IT UNLESS YOU’VE LET ENOUGH TIME PASS.

If you’re like me, you proceeded to ignore said advice.

And then you proceeded to promptly throw your beautiful horrible draft as far away from you as possible so it wouldn’t bite your face off.

Oh, wait.

You haven’t done this?

Well.  You must not have given it to six different readers, all of whom have incredibly sharp wits, kind hearts, and the invaluable willingness to tell you exactly what you need to hear in order to turn your sort-of-kind-of-almost-but-not-quite-there-yet manuscript into something BETTER.

The good thing about this?  I love, love, love, Love, LOVE that their feedback is going to strengthen the work I care about so much.

The hard thing about it?  It really IS true that objectivity requires distance.  Without distance, the manuscript is THE thing you’ve poured your heart into, THE product of all those difficult hours, THE accomplishment you’re proud of.  And it makes it really hard to hear that it still needs work, EVEN THOUGH YOU ABSOLUTELY, 100% AGREE with most of the feedback you’re getting.  You know it’s not perfect, and yet it’s still hard to deal with the fact that it’s not perfect.

Another hard thing?  Not everyone agrees on what works and what doesn’t.  One reader thinks a character was particularly effective, while someone else thinks the same character wasn’t very fleshed out at all.  Another character rocks someone’s world, while at the same time confusing another reader.  One says cut that element, while another says that was one of my favorite things!

Getting conflicting feedback when you’re thisclose to the manuscript is like being on a rollercoaster.  Your work is being challenged (in a good way and for the better), and it’s tempting to take every single thing to heart as it comes in.  Either that, or only listen to the things that make you feel good (which are NOT always the same things you and your manuscript NEED to listen to).

So.

What does a person do in this situation?

The hard thing.  Which is also the best thing.

  • WAIT. Even though it’s not easy, and you’re passionate about doing more–wait.  Wait because you’re passionate.  Passion will stand in the way of doing hard things you might need to do.  And because you’re passionate, you want the very best for your work.  Waiting counts as hard work, so don’t let yourself feel lazy.  It. Is. Hard.
  • LISTEN. Listen to everything, even the things that make you angry or want to cry.  Chances are, those things are problems you know need to be dealt with.  Dealing with them will make your work stronger.  Listen to your trusted friends.  (I suppose it’s possible that even people you don’t trust can give you useful feedback.  I wouldn’t know, though.  So far, the only readers I’ve had are people I trust and respect.)  At the end of the day, listen to what best serves the story YOU set out to tell.
  • HANDS OFF. Do not touch the manuscript until after a) you’ve had enough distance to be objective, and b) all your critiques are in.  I didn’t come up with this piece of advice.  I read it, among other helpful things, here and here (Oh, Natalie Whipple, you rock.) and here (You rock, too, Merrilee Faber.).   I read all of these posts just in time to pry my eager little fingers away from making changes too early.
  • MULL IT OVER. A lot.  This, too, can look like laziness to those of us who thrive on typing, scratching things out, making manuscripts bleed.  Mulling is anything but lazy, though.  Mulling can happen in the shower, in those first few minutes when you wake up, the last few minutes before you fall asleep, while you’re in line at the grocery store, while you’re sweating in yoga.  It’s not as tangible as diving in and fixing things, which is what makes it hard.
  • WAIT. Yes, again.
  • DO SOMETHING ELSE THAT IS PRODUCTIVE WHILE WAITING. Why?  Because waiting can be incredibly draining and annoying.  We are writers.  It’s what we do.  I was feeling particularly impatient over the weekend, so I spent several hours working on an idea that’s been lingering in my head for months.  Nothing like a no-pressure first draft to defuse the pressure we put on ourselves to succeed with that one VIP (Very Important Project).
  • THINK. On paper.  On computer.  On Starbucks napkins.  On the palm of your hand.  In your head.  About the easy fixes and the ugly truths.  About how much you love your crit partners for loving you enough to be honest with you.
  • THEN EVALUATE AND FIX. The light at the end?  It’s still there.  You just might spend more time in that dark tunnel than you initially expected.  Be patient and do your best work.  (For example, read Merrilee’s take on Creative Revision.)  Hold out hope that your hard work will be worth it.

These are the things I’m learning from other people who have been there.  Waiting is HARD.  Harder than it seems when you’re merely reading posts about it.  I’m itching to work on this manuscript, but am forcing myself to wait a little longer.

If you didn’t already, click on the links to Merrilee’s and Natalie’s blogs.  These are excellent posts about what to do with feedback once you get it.

PS: That ALLIGATOR LIVES IN CANAL sign is from a rental car place in Florida.  Can I just take a minute to tell you how glad I am that I didn’t feel a pressing urge to frolic in the canal? (Not that such urges are the norm for me.  I prefer to frolic in private places like my living room.) An alligator bite may have put a bit of a damper on an otherwise incredible vacation!

One Ocean, Two Islands, and Three Theme Parks Later…

13 Sep

Ah, snowy Hogsmeade in September…

Well, hello there, lovely blog friends.  Silly vacation, tearing us apart for so long.  I’ve missed you.  Truly.

It would be odd and unfortunate if I didn’t share some of the ocean, the islands, and the theme parks with you guys, right?  Right.  I think so, too.

I made some observations over the past week.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for me to go an entire week without Starbucks.
  2. Right in line with popular belief, however, is the cold hard truth that an entire week without coffee or lattes? HA. I rather quickly made friends with Vanya, the barista onboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship. She makes excellent lattes.
  3. The flight from Houston to Dallas lasts exactly as long as it takes for me to do 16.5 easy sudoku puzzles.
  4. There does, indeed, exist a sunblock that works for my skin. After a week in the sun, I came out looking shrimp-pink rather than my usual lobster-red. (It was a Neutrogena something or other, FYI. Perhaps I should memorize it so I don’t go right back to lobster land? Yeeeah.)
  5. Yes, I am in this picture. I know, I know. You only noticed the castle. Me, too.

    If butterbeer—the frozen kind—was a Starbucks drink, it would taste like a butterscotch créme frappuccino.  Hear that, Howard Schultz?  I expect to see these in the spring.  You’d make bazillions off of them.  Not everyone can travel to Harry Potter World just for a delicious beverage, but most people (except for my beloved family in the Texas Hill Country) can easily get to a Starbucks.  And who doesn’t want to try butterbeer?

  6. Glamour magazine should come with a warning label that reads: DO NOT READ WHILE SITTING IN A BEACH CHAIR IN THE OCEAN.  BETTER YET, DO NOT READ, PERIOD, UNLESS YOU WANT EVERY PAGE TO FALL OUT (AND FOR YOUR FINGERS, LEGS, AND STOMACH TO GET SMEARED WITH BLACK INK THAT HAS RUBBED OFF THE PAGE).  Ahem.  Then again, if they printed that warning label—especially so shoutily—they might not sell magazines.  But then, at least, people wouldn’t be left in beach chairs in the ocean wondering where to put all the pages that have fallen out while simultaneously trying to figure out if the ink will wash off.

    An ocean to myself! I'm reading Paranormalcy here. (Not the falling-apart Glamour magazine.)

  7. September?  Is totally the time to go to theme parks.  We did Harry Potter World (at Universal Orlando), the Magic Kingdom, and Epcot, all in two days.  We rode everything we wanted to, and even on rides like Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (you’d think Disney World was in the Rockies or something) we only had to wait for, like, five minutes.  The ride inside Hogwarts Castle was the longest line we had, and even that was only about 30 minutes.
  8. And PS: uh, the ride inside Hogwarts?  Very cool.  We even kinda wanted to stay in line longer because there were so many amazing things to look at.
  9. Nothing beats 7AM mornings on the upper deck of a cruise ship, surrounded by ocean, with a latte made by Vanya and a fresh blue Moleskine in hand.  I sat out there for an hour or so every morning and brainstormed ideas for Book #2, and I’m overwhelmed with excitement about the things that poured onto those pages.
  10. Contrary to what I’d hoped, the construction and crammed street outside the window of my favorite Starbucks?  Did not suddenly morph into an ocean while I was away.  Bah.  I miss the ocean.
  11. Massages on the beach are expensive.  And so, so, so worth it.

Amazing, right? The sunrise over the ocean, dark and early, from the top deck of our ship. No wonder I felt inspired enough to fill a zillion(ish) pages in my Moleskine.

Also notable: for the first time ever, I came back itching to work on stuff.  Perhaps it’s due to the wealth of ideas I got while brainstorming, or perhaps it’s because Linda and Melissa have been über-amazing, quick readers who have already given me some brilliant feedback on the draft I just finished, like, a week ago.  Whatever the reason, I’m inspired and encouraged and ready to set back to work.  Hope all is well with all of you!  I feel like I missed a ton from the blogosphere while I was gone.  What are you guys working on this week?

FINISHED.

3 Sep

YAY. Draft three = FINISHED.

Well, relatively.

Who knows how finished finished actually is, you know?  But I do know one thing: the third draft is done.  Finally.

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

(Ahem.)

It was a major stretch to try to finish this week, and I am feeling it, physically.  My neck is tight.  My head aches.  Since I’m sore from so many hours of staring at my laptop this past week¹, I’m postponing the rest of my Comparison Series until I get back from vacation.  I hate to do that, because I am kind of huge on sticking to my word.  It’s for everyone’s own good, though.  You know you’d rather have a quality post than one that reads:

Blurgh.

Right?  Because that’s about all I have in me at the moment.  And writing the last two posts of the series will be the perfect way to transition back from vacation.

The vacation which, at the moment, I feel is completely deserved.  Sigh. (No, really.  I actually did just sigh.)

See you guys in a week, or a little more.  Maybe before, if the ocean happens to conjure up an internet connection.

Until then: peace, sunshine, cool breezes, and happy writing.

¹And possibly because I have mountains of dishes and laundry to finish before tomorrow.  Side note: I stared at the mess last night.  It was, quite possibly, the only time I will EVER look at such a disaster and think, Wow. This tornado zone is not due to laziness but, rather, is a direct result of super-awesome diligent productivity!!!  I should totally take a picture!

Why You Should NEVER Compare Yourself.

30 Aug

(Part One of a three-part series.)

Comparison.

Today, we will take a completely one-sided look at it: why you should NEVER, EVER, EVER compare yourself with other writers. Ignore your instinct to think about the merits of comparison—I’m saving those for next time, when we take another completely one-sided look at the topic.  From the other side, naturally.

Last week, I compared comparison to a knife.  Going along with today’s one-sided perspective, we will look at the ways said knife can be absolutely useless, and even harmful.  Next time, we’ll look at how amazing and helpful a knife can be.

But not today.

Imagine you have a knife in your hand.  If you grip it by it’s handle, it can be helpful.  Forget helpful.  Imagine you’re holding it by the blade.

Holding it by the blade is dangerous at worst and useless at best.  The tighter you grip it, the more dangerous it becomes.  Like the knife, comparison can be a useful tool, but only if you know how to properly hold it.  The problem with comparison is that it’s all to easy to hold it by the blade, where it becomes useless.  Dangerous.  Painful, especially if you wrap your hand around it and cling so tight you bleed.

Here are things we cling to that have the potential to make us bleed:

There will always be someone WORSE.

This one’s tricky.  On the surface, it looks encouraging.  Surely I can’t be the worst person to ever try this, we think.  If THAT got published, my novel can, too. It’s too easy to take that and proceed with confidence.

Problem: it’s false confidence.  It’s a one-sided view that forgets that books on the shelf—any books on the shelf—are the product of much time and money, many stamps of approval.  That view ignores what books do right and looks only at what we perceive to be flaws.  All of this leads to the potential for deluded attitudes, which can lead to deluded writing.

In this sense, comparison is useless, because it does not challenge your work and it can lead to false confidence.  It can all too easily foster a well, it’s good enough! attitude, instead of a how good can it be? attitude.

There will always be someone BETTER.

Also true.  Very, very, very true.  It’s probably not too hard to see where this mindset can get dangerous.  We compare.  We despair.  We read something amazing, something mindblowing that resonates with us, and we think: that author is a superhuman genius and I can never be that good, ever, Ever, EVER, so I should just stop now and someone please pass me the trash can so I can forget I ever tried. Trash can. NOW!

Forget the years they spent developing their craft.  Forget the innumerable drafts that go into the finished product on the shelf.  Forget all the rejections it took for them to get there.  We want to be them, we want to be them NOW, except we kind of just want to be the easy published version of them who just magically whipped up a perfect book in no time.

That will depress anyone.

This kills your writing, and maybe even all the heart you’ve put into it, because it’s so dang depressing.  Like the thoughts about there’s always someone WORSE than me, it’s unbalanced.  Instead of only looking at the flaws, like we do when we perceive ourselves to be better than someone, we focus only on those areas where the superhuman geniuses succeed.  We forget that even superhuman geniuses put sweat and tears into their work.

So, what?

Don’t cling.  Not to the blade, anyway.  When you hold fast to the wrong things—only the flaws of some, only the raving successes of others—you’re likely to bleed.  Hold on to whole truth, not the skewed half-truths that so easily slip in under your skin.

After writing all this, it seems almost impossible that comparison can be helpful.  It can be, though.  Really.  Next time, we’ll look at the knife from the other unabashedly one-sided perspective: why you should TOTALLY compare yourself to other writers.

Comparison: The Writer’s Knife

26 Aug

And here we have an example of someone with a knife (and a gun, technically). You DO recognize him, right?

Just so you know, I was thisclose to naming this post “The Writer’s Villain.”

In a post about villains, I would have then blathered on about how all the best villains have something redeemable about them.  That the best villains are not what they seem to be at first glance, but are usually much worse than they seem to be.  And, though they’re definitely dastardly, there’s probably one tiny endearing thing that makes them sympathetic.  Benjamin Linus and his daddy issues.  Voldemort and his intensely human fear of death and desire for power.  The guy pictured above, who I will refrain from giving spoilers about.  Blah blah blah.  Blather, blather.

But I’m not writing about villains today.

I’m writing about comparison, and the knife seemed a more precise analogy.  Think about it: a knife can be both a source of life and death, power or pain.  It can be used to carve weapons, sharpen other knives, cut rope or string or fabric to make shelter or clothing, kill and prepare food. Just as it’s useful for killing food to eat, however, it’s able to kill a human.  It can cut, slice, puncture, and then there’s pain.  Death.

It’s all in how you hold it, and it’s all in how you use it.

Same with comparison.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week about this.  Is it ever okay to compare yourself to other writers, or is that just a knife waiting to kill your work?  Or, is it a knife waiting to sharpen your work, carve it into something stronger, more powerful, better?  Or, is it neither—just a nagging weapon, a little too dangerous to touch and much better left to those who can handle it?

I think it’s all three.  Comparison can be useful to us as writers, but only if we know how to not let it kill us.

Over the next week or so, I’m going to write a miniseries about these things.  There will be three posts:

Why you should NEVER, EVER, EVER compare yourself to other writers,

Why you should TOTALLY compare yourself to other writers,

and

WHAT TO DO once you’ve not compared and compared yourself to other writers. (Turns out I may not write this one after all. The TOTALLY post covered it well enough, I think.)

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, the temptation to compare ourselves with others—both in writing and in life—isn’t going away any time soon.  We might as well learn how to wield it to our advantage.

And, PS: My qualifications for writing this look a lot like, “Girl compares herself.  Girl despairs.  Girl decides there’s value in the comparison.  Girl knows others have the tendency to compare themsleves, too, and maybe even despair—what she’s learning just might help someone else. Girl decides to throw opinions out there into Blogosphere. Girl proceeds to refer to herself as Girl, drink her coffee, and hope this miniseries sounds remotely helpful and/or interesting to someone other than merely herself.”

Anna and the French Kiss Giveaway Contest!

16 Aug

Also known as the post in which I shamelessly plug a book I’m SO looking forward to reading in an attempt to win an advanced copy.

Because I want it.  And you should, too.

Just last week, I blogged about the intense and inspiring revision process of author Stephanie Perkins.  So, how cool is it that I — and you — have a chance to win an advanced copy of that very novel, the result of all that devotion and discipline?  I was already looking forward to Anna and the French Kiss, but my anticipation totally quadrupled (and then the quadrupled anticipation quadrupled) after I read about the blood, sweat, and tears she put into it.

Click here to read Stephanie’s post about the contest.

Since this is a rarity on this blog (this being a shameless attempt to win something), that should tell you how much I’m looking forward to the book.  I promise to bombard you with such shameless attempts *only* in the most special of contests.

Like this one.

(Note: Saying nice things about Stephanie and her book are NOT part of the requirements to win the contest.  I merely had to post about it.  Thought it was worth mentioning that these are things I genuinely think-slash-feel, and they won’t give me any better chance at winning the book.)(Unfortunately.)

Au revoir for now!  (She says in a completely tainted-by-Texas, un-French-as-you-can-get accent.)

Just Because it’s the Third Draft,

9 Aug

it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s almost finished.

Unfortunately and fortunately.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends and family.  When I say “a lot,” I really only mean “two, over and over again.”  The conversation goes a little like this:

“How far are you in your book?”

“Sixty-ish percent through the third draft, yay!”

“So—does that mean you’ll be done soon?”

(Pause for crickets to chirp while I think of how to explain that while I’m *much* closer to being done, I’m not sure exactly when ‘done’ will happen.)

“Hopefully the rest of this draft won’t take too much longer, but it will probably still need a bit of work after that.”

“Oh.”

As you might imagine, this has an interesting effect on me.  I’ve been working on this thing for a while, right?  And everyone knows it.  And I’m almost done with my third draft.  Third!  Not the first one, where I had no clue.  Not the second one, where I performed major MAJOR surgery on the manuscript.  The third draft, where things are finally, finally, finally starting to resemble something presentable!  That means I’m almost done, right?

Eh.

Not quite.  Not for sure, anyway.  After this draft, I plan to read it again and polish up a few things I may have missed before it goes into the hands of a few betas.  And then, depending on the feedback from my oh-so-helpful future betas (who will, I hope, be tactful and kind while being brutally honest), it may take a little work, or it may take a lot of work.  In which case I will complete said work and make it the best little manuscript I can write, send some intensely sincere thank you cards to my kind/brutal future betas, and mold it until it feels ready to send to agents.

I’m aware that it probably won’t ever be perfect.  That doesn’t mean I want to stop at merely good enough, though.

I was inspired to think these thoughts and write this post due to something I read over the weekend.  Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss (December 2010), has an amazing post on her blog about just how many revisions Anna has been through.  It’s a lot, people.  Her attitude about it is pretty inspiring, and I encourage you to read the post¹.

It occurred to me: so many non-writer people ask when I’ll be done because they have no clue how much work goes into a novel.  I thought I had a clue.  This post, though, opened my eyes to exactly how much work a novel can demand.  Reading the perspective of someone who has lived it?  Was pretty much revelatory for me.  Just because it’s the third draft, doesn’t mean it’s anywhere close to the final product.

This can overwhelm me, or it can inspire me.

I’m choosing to be inspired, because I’d rather not feel overwhelmed.  Did I mention that everyone’s “When are you going to be done?”s have tempted me to rush the thing?  To churn it out because I’m thisclose to the end?  No, I don’t think I mentioned it.  But now I have, mainly to say I’m learning patience.  And follow-through.  To not rush, but to work steadily and with discipline, making sure everything is as good as it can possibly be.  Leaving it at good enough would be cheating myself and my manuscript.

Which is where my “unfortunately and fortunately” comment comes in.  Unfortunately, I may still have a long road on this novel.  Fortunately, I love my characters and the story.  Fortunately, I know that feedback from betas, and whatever subsequent revisions come out of that feedback, will only serve to improve the story.  That, after however many hours I put into it and however many lattes I drink in the process, the work will pay off.  It will be the best little manuscript it could possibly be, and how could I ever want it to be anything but that?

Unfortunately, it may take longer than expected.

Fortunately, it will be worth it.

¹The first half of the post is about the book itself, the last section (after the question in red text) is all about the many stages of revision that went into her novel.

It’s Shiny + Bright,

7 Aug

in case you haven’t noticed.

My new blog layout, that is.  I figured I should at least acknowledge the change, since it’s the first time I’ve forced my blog to endure a makeover.

You should know: I am a creature of habit.

It was really hard for me to take the leap and actually change the theme — especially when I realized my old theme wasn’t available anymore.  Nothing like making a leap with no safety net, you know?  Nonetheless, I took the leap (obviously) and am pleased to say I’m adjusting well.

In case you are wondering why I took the leap, there are two reasons.  One: dark-on-light is easier to read.  Two: the fonts feel clean, the colors bright, and (I hope) the overall effect comes off as a bit more professional.  The only thing I don’t love are the faint pink dots in the background.  The bold pink date dots, though?  Love.

Along with the HUGE theme change, I thought I’d go ahead and call your attention to some fun additions to my blogroll.  Namely, the websites of Natalie Whipple, Kiersten White, Stephanie Perkins, and Laini Taylor’s über-awesome website (“Not for Robots”) for “people for whom writing is hard.” I’m loving these sites, and the people behind them — from what I gather via Twitter and their blogs — are adorable.  Their posts are always helpful and amazing.  On top of that, they do Twitter well.  You should follow them.

Okay.  I think that’s it.

Feel free to peruse things, if you’re in a procrastinatory mood.  Happy writing and happy weekend!

Dangling in the Balance Between Life Sucks and Happily Ever After

4 Aug

Have you ever been working on a novel, and walked away from a productive day of work feeling sort of unsettled about it?

I’m not talking about the writing itself, really.  Or the fact that it might be taking forever to complete.  Or (insert your insecurity of choice here).

Things have been going really well with these edits.  Some of the scenes are taking (a TON) more work than others.  Some are way better than I initially thought they were.  Either way, I’m making steady progress because I’ve been plowing my way through this draft with reckless abandon.  (Okay, reckless abandon is a bit melodramatic, but whatevs.  I’ve got to get the melodrama out somewhere, and it is NOT going into my draft.)

Yesterday was no exception, but despite good progress and satisfaction with the scenes I had worked on, I found myself feeling the slightest bit unsettled.  Then, it occurred to me:

Duh.  Your main guy and main girl are totally at odds with each other, and you (having the tendency to want to fix, fix, fix EVERYTHING) just want them to live peacefully ever after.

I hate to see people upset with each other in real life, so I guess it should come as no surprise that this carries over into my feelings about my characters.

This is probably a good problem to have.  It means the novel has its fair share of conflict, and it means I am able to empathize with my characters. It also means I’m not giving in to the temptation to resolve tension too quickly.  Hopefully, it means I’ll do justice to the emotions they’re experiencing so that future readers will empathize with them, too.

Do you ever feel unsettled after writing scenes that leave your characters dangling in the balance between life sucks and happily ever after, or is it just me?  If you do feel this sort of empathy with your characters, I’m curious — what made you realize you’d come to care so much for them?