Tag Archives: writers

Two Years!

3 Jun

Happy blogobirthday to you…

Happy blogobirthday to you!

Happy blogobirthday dear blog-o’-mine—

[insert warbling that goes on longer than it should]

Happy blogobirthday to you!

Ahem. *clears throat* (A warble got lodged in my windpipe.)(Never a good thing.)

As of today yesterday, the blog is a two-year-old! Now, we all know what they say about two-year-olds—they’re terrible, and whatnot—but my blog is determined to shatter that stereotype and prefers you think of him (I guess the blog is male?) as a terrific two-year-old instead.

These two years have flown by—in fact, it feels like just yesterday that I wrote this post (last year’s “it’s been a whole year!” blogobirthday post).

Following the tradition I started last year, here’s a list of things I have now that I didn’t have a year ago:

  • A so-close-to-being-finished novel (albeit one that still needs a bit of work)
  • Two more novels in the first draft phase
  • More amazing Twitter/blog friends, and deeper relationships with the ones I already knew
  • A very, very, very full bookshelf
  • A new apartment in a new city
  • A baby boy (currently, uh, still baking)
  • A first writers’ conference experience
  • Numerous in-person writer friends
  • A fantastic critique group, and more experience giving/receiving feedback

I’m sure I’m forgetting things, but that’s a good thing! There is much to be thankful for. Happy writing and reading to you all!

 

Your Words are NOT a Waste!

17 Jan

Last week, I had a conversation with one of my critique partners about first drafts—her in-progress first draft, my feels-like-forever-ago first draft.

Every now and then, she finds herself stuck writing this first draft, afraid of taking a detour that will end up being a mistake, a major waste of time.  As seems wise and logical, she’s trying to be efficient.  Efficiency is, by NO means, a bad thing.  But…in the first draft?  It can be paralyzing.  Same with perfectionism, which we both know all too well.

This got me thinking (and confessing) about how drastically my novel has changed over the course of four drafts.  I actually cracked open that first draft to see how it compared to what I remembered about it.

Oh.  Man.

It was, like, a completely bare-bones version of what I have today.  My minor characters are mere shadows of who they eventually became, my main character isn’t fully developed yet, it’s complicated but oversimplified at the same time (I know, that doesn’t make total sense, but trust me), two important minor characters don’t even exist yet, one character is WAY important in this draft but eventually became background fodder in later drafts, several plot points existed then but have morphed over time, the ending has changed completely.  I used way too many words to communicate things.  My paragraphs?  OY VEY, my paragraphs…some of them are, like, half a page long.

Basically, it was like an 85,000-word long extremely rough draft.  Which is why I scrapped most of those words and started over from a blank page for the second draft.  And then, on the third draft, though the story was mostly in place and I kept a lot of the ideas in tact, I knew I could write it better.  I started over from a blank page again.  I rewrote the beginning for this fourth draft, but mostly, this is the first time I’m actually editing words on a draft instead of rewriting them all.

All of that to say: I cut a LOT throughout that whole process.  That which I didn’t cut, morphed into better stuff.  It’s taken a while to get here.  But, hey, it’s my first attempt at writing a novel—I would have been delusional if I had thought it would turn out perfect on the first draft.  It was coherent, yes—but it’s gotten SO MUCH BETTER, much more complex, much tighter, much deeper, since then.  And, there are no more half-page-long paragraphs. *cringes*

I can say, 100% without a doubt, that it would have been a very, very pale imitation of itself had I merely tried to be efficient early on.  It’s taken all that work, and all those words, to chisel away at this story, to really know my characters, to learn how to write tight but effective prose, to spin and weave my novel’s various threads.

My words, my thousands and thousands of words, were not a waste.  Neither are yours.  Be patient with your story.  There are upsides and downsides to efficiency—don’t worry if you take detours.  You can always edit them out later, and the detours will probably spark better ideas you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise!

Happy writing, my friends!

Marathon Day of Edits…

12 Jan

…coming up right after I finish this blog post.

As you may or may not remember, I made an ambitious deadline for finishing this draft of my novel.  Well…the problem with ambitious deadlines is that they are, by nature, ambitious.

Translation: ohmygoodnessihaveSOmuchworktodo.

I’m determined to leave my deadline firmly where I carved it into stone set it.

Therefore: today. Lots of peppermint tea. Focus turned all the way up to eleven. Twitter on in the background—for sanity breaks, of course, so I don’t go crazy.  And, of course, my cat.  Most importantly: perseverance.

So.  Here I go.

*Deep breath.*

UPDATE! Thank you all—SO MUCH!—for encouraging me today, both here in the comments and on Twitter!  It helped a lot, and brightened my (very analytical, very focused) day.  In case you’re wondering about my progress, it was pretty fantastic!  I didn’t get through everything I’d hoped to, but that’s okay.  I got through most of it, then decided a) it would be good to move around, so I took a walk, and b) I can get back to work tomorrow with fresh eyes!  Again, thank you all for being awesome.  🙂

New Year, New Goals…

3 Jan

2011 has only just started, but I can feel it: it’s going to be a big year.

A lot happened in 2010.  I made major progress on my novel, started a second novel, participated in Merrilee’s Creativity Workshop over the summer, joined Twitter, made new friendships and deepened others, and blogged more regularly (until, um, the move to Austin).

2010 was the year I really settled into a disciplined groove with writing, the year I learned how to cultivate new ideas (and therefore, the year I learned how to choose which new ideas to focus on as they came flooding in), the year I grew a spine and shared my novel with beta readers for the first time.

All that to say, I think 2011 will be just as amazing—maybe even more amazing.

The week before Christmas, I made a huge list of goals.  I’m talking HUGE.  (This is because I make extremely specific—and therefore, extremely measurable—goals.)

Perhaps the biggest, most exciting, goal is this:

This year, I will finish this novel to the point where I am satisfied enough with it to begin querying agents.

I’ve set myself a pretty ambitious, specific schedule (because, yes! I did set a goal date…and it’s soon…).  The novel’s close to being ready, but it’s not there yet.  Still: YAY.  This is the first year where “finish my WIP,” “send query letters to agents,” and “finish first draft of Shiny New Novel” have been actual, possible, achievable goals.

AND I’M SO EXCITED.

The other goal I’ll share with you guys is this: I plan a return to more regular blogging, and plan to write on a MWF schedule (plus any and all other random spurts of blogginess that just beg to be written!) from now on.¹

Happy 2011 to everyone!  I wish you all motivation, inspiration, and dedication in abundance!

xoxo ❤

 

¹On that note, if you happen to have any requests or suggestions for things you’d like to read about, let me know in the comments!

Christmas Traditions

24 Dec

Since I don’t have pictures of snow—and besides, many of you have seen more snow than you wanted to this year (insert unrelenting snow-envy here)—I thought you might enjoy this picture of Mr. Cat in the tree!  Yes, while my sweet husband risked his wrists and busted out the oven mitts to extract him from the tree, I helped by taking this adorable picture.

For my Christmas post, I thought I’d talk a bit about the traditions we have in our family.  They seem normal to me, but of course, they’re probably not.  (Okay, so I KNOW one of our traditions is anything but normal…) I got the idea for this post from one Linda wrote a couple of weeks ago.  At the end of it, she asked us to describe our Christmas trees and holiday traditions.

Since I practically wrote a blog post in her comment section, I decided to just copy and paste it here for you guys to read:

Every year, my grandmother gives my sister and me a new ornament (and now, she gives them to our husbands, too)—that means I have 28 unique ornaments decorating our (fake, but full and real-looking) tree. I usually add some bows made of muted gold ribbon and lots of berry-colored glass ball ornaments (tied on with ribbon, not hung with paperclips like at my parents’ house).

We always celebrate on both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve, we eat an awesome meal (backstrap venison, twice-baked potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, red wine, and dessert), drive around and look at Christmas lights, and then open one gift each. (ALWAYS pajamas. And they usually don’t fit, though they are cute.) Christmas morning, we all take turns opening gifts (NEVER all at once).

Nothing says Christmas like an ugly Star Wars wind-up toy!

Oh, and my sister and I have what is quite possibly the weirdest Christmas tradition EVER: the walking Sebulba.

Yes. The walking Sebulba, as in Sebulba from Star Wars: Episode One. We have this plastic wind-up Sebulba toy (you wind him up and he—that’s right—walks!), and when my mom decorates her tree, she hides the Sebulba somewhere inside it. My sister and I compete to be the first to spot the Sebulba. (Winner gets bragging rights.) Oh, and you have to pronounce “The walking SeBULBa” with the BULB accented really hard, with this exaggerated, sing-songy British accent.

Yes, we are dorks. Told you it was weird. But that’s what we look forward to, so I’ll stand by it, haha.

So, that’s what we do.  I’m curious about you guys—I fully expect to be all on my own with the whole find-the-Sebulba-in-the-tree thing, but I want to know about YOUR traditions! Are there any quirky things your family does, or are y’all straight-up traditional?  Or, do you not celebrate at all?

And with that, I’m off to drink some eggnog, eat what’s left of the Ninjabread Army, and ready the oven mitts for when the meows inevitably curl up in the tree.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

Where the Magic Happens

23 Dec

As promised—(whee, I found my camera!)—here’s a picture of the writing room at our new apartment!  That desk was my grandfather’s, and it’s where I do most of my writing.  Well, when I’m not at Starbucks, anyway.  Oh, and lest you worry that my bookshelf isn’t well-stocked, just remember we have several more bookshelves.  This one’s just for books on writing and pretty hardcover new-releases.

It’s true!  We have two desks in the writing room!  This is the less-used one, because it’s small and antique and has a large crack running from end to end.  However, it’s the PERFECT size for laying out note cards while attempting to rearrange and rework troublesome sections of the novel.

This is pretty similar to the first picture, obviously, except it shows you my fun dandelion painting (which was a MAJOR score at Urban Outfitters—it had no price tag and a tiny smudge on it, and they let me buy it for a mere $5) and my guitar.  That’s, you know, for when I get stuck or tired or frustrated and just need a relaxing little break.  Lately, my go-to songs for this type of break include the song Gwyneth Paltrow sang on Glee (“Forget You,” the clean version of a song by Cee Lo), “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” (because Christmas is about much more than presents and decorations and ninjabread, and singing about it helps me remember that), and “Hey, Jude” (by the Beatles, but I hope you knew that already).

You can’t tell from these pictures, but the windows look out into trees and hills.  It’s a peaceful room for writing and reading (there’s a big reading chair on the opposite end of the room, but the pictures I took of it looked kind of lame, so I spared you all).

So, speaking of writing and reading, I have a LOT to do.

But…um…it’s Christmas Eve Eve today, and that only happens once a year.  Plus, I will be running full-speed ahead starting next week.  There’s a time for goals, and a time for rest.

Today, I shall rest.

Hope everyone’s having a lovely week—remember to rest amid the busybusybusy!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve to you all! ❤

 

Fresh Start

1 Dec

You know what feels good?

DECEMBER.

That’s right—in all its frigid glory¹, December is already rocking my face off.  Why, you ask?  Because that means NOVEMBER IS OVER!

Hallelujah!

No, seriously.  Hallelujah.  November was one of the best—and one of the worst—months I can remember.  Austin is fresh and fantastic, though.  All the stress, all those days spent not writing, all the goodbyes, all the everything?  It’s ALL worth it.

We have more space (ENOUGH space! More than a one-bedroom apartment space! SPAAAAACE!), we’re surrounded by all things green and gorgeous, it’s quiet, it’s steadily becoming organized and delightful, and the Starbucks (four minutes from parking lot to garage! Wheee!) is even better than I hoped for.  Except I don’t really have to go to Starbucks as much, because a) there are a TON of coffee house options here, b) I bought a fresh bag of espresso + cleaned our fancy espresso machine, and c) I have an actual writing room!

Yes: WRITING ROOM!

Even better?  I actually get to write in it today.

After an entire month of no WIP progress—zero words!—while watching everyone lasso the moon on their NaNo projects, I am SO. FREXING. EXCITED. to get back to work today.  On the agenda: back to work on the fourth draft of WIP #1, followed by (*hopefully*) 500ish new words on the first draft of WIP #2.

Happy December to you all!  Oh, and I’m glad to have the internet again, which means a return to regular blog and Twitter interaction—YAY!  What’s on your December agenda?

¹Which, um, in Texas? Is about 37ºF at the moment.

Accio Chopstick Wand!

19 Nov

Remy the Ravenclaw Cat. Yes, that is his wand. And, yes—it IS a chopstick.

Here at our house, ALL of us are excited about the Harry Potter premiere.  This afternoon, we’ll be taking a break from the boxes (the Chick-Fil-A waffle fry boxes, obviously)(sans cats) to go be awed and amazed by what looks to be an incredible movie.

Can. Not. Wait.

No, seriously.  I can’t.  I’m about to throw on that Ravenclaw scarf, whip up some fake butterbeer (vanilla bean ice cream + butterscotch syrup + cream + blender = AWESOME.), jump in my car, and drive to the theater.

Soon, I shall be out of this moving phase and will stop posting pictures of our cats.  Thanks for hanging in there with me. ❤

Happy Days are Here Again!

5 Nov

It’s a sunny, cold-but-not-freezing, altogether fresh Friday morning.  It’s a good hair day, a my-latte-is-amazing day, an I-have-a-new-J.Crew-necklace-and-am-so-wearing-it-today day.  Plus, I had fresh organic raspberries in my oatmeal this morning.  So, of course — on a day like today — what else is a girl supposed to do, but belt out the “Happy Days are Here Again” song in her trés echo-y apartment complex walkway on the way to her Jeep, you know?

(Yes.  I did this before nine in the morning.  Perhaps I can blame the amazing raspberries for pushing me over the edge?)

(Fortunately, only one dog attempted to bark me into silence.)

Anyway.  It’s fitting that I’m having a happy day today, since I’m guest posting at Natalie Whipple’s blog about — you guessed it! — happy things.  Every Friday, Natalie does a post for the Happy Writers Society.  This week, my two cents are up.  Check them out here if you haven’t already, and be sure to check out every single other post Natalie’s ever written, while you’re at it.

November Eve Eve

30 Oct

It’s that time of year again—November Eve Eve!

The day before the day before November starts, and crazy hopeful writers everywhere pick up their pens (oh, who am I kidding, they take to their keyboards) and write like mad for a month.

It’s the day before the day before the day outlines will be shelved in favor of that One Magnetic Idea, the Hugely Huge One that requires a ton of planning but who cares?! I can totally write a zillion-word (50K is for wimps, yo!) epic masterpiece trilogy in a month with no prior thought whatsoever—it’s November, and that means my brain and fingers and keyboard are infused with MAGIC!

It’s also the last day where sleep is an option, because Halloween?  Pretty much backs up to November.  Bubble-clad Lady GaGas, sparkly-sexy vampires, Princess Leias, Voldemorts, and Pippi Longstockings everywhere will flock from parties to coffee houses, bust out their laptops at midnight, and FALL ASLEEP IN THEIR BOTTOMLESS CUPS OF COFFEE WRITE!

So…am I doing NaNoWriMo?

Heck no.

I’m a NaNo cheerleader, which is every bit as important!  This is a PSA to everyone who’s tempted to think November is only for participants.  No, my friends!  The participants need cheerleaders!

Who else is going to remind them to eat?  Reassure them that it’s TOTALLY OKAY if they actually heed the Inner Editor (not to be confused with the Inner Critic) when she speaks her mind?  That doing the Halloween-party-to-coffee-shop thing at midnight, dressed in bubbles, is a bad idea in more ways than one?  That sacrificing quality for mere quantity only leads to editing misery?  To be their Harry Potters when they are Dumbledores in Voldemort’s horcrux cave (“Make me finish this no matter how much I protest!”)?

No, friends—November Eve Eve (and the rest of November, for that matter) is not the time to sit back.

November Eve Eve is the day to adopt a NaNo Participant, whip out your cute little cheerleading outfits, and prepare to ENCOURAGE!

Here are some suggested adoptees to get you started:

@melissaiswrite / @LizaKane / @KristenYard / @jamieharrington / @LauraJMoss / @Anna_Dawes / @betherann / @mercedesmy / @Simone7304 / @WeronikaJanczuk

Disclaimer: these extreme examples of crazy people in no way resemble the awesome participants listed here.  These ladies have good heads on their shoulders, and I have every confidence they’ll whip November into shape and wield it to their advantage (as opposed to, uh, getting whipped by November).  All the more reason you should cheer them on!  🙂


Oh! And PS: I listed their Twitter handles because it’s easiest to follow that way.  If you prefer to follow blogs, not Tweets, click over anyway.  Links are included with their profile sections.

PPS: If any listed participants would rather be cheerleaderless, shoot me an email [olsonkayla (at) gmail (dot) com] or a comment and I’ll remove you from this post.  And, conversely, if you’re NOT on the list—and can’t face November without pompoms and pyramids—just let me know!