NaNoWriMo 2017 – Week One

The first week of NaNoWriMo 2017 is done and BOY HOWDY AM I DOING GREAT!

Last year, my first week was Not Great and I didn’t even reach the point where I should have been by the seventh day of November. But this year, I’m doing incredibly. I’ve had a few slip-ups where I didn’t quite reach the 1,667 for the day, but I’ve written every single day with at least 1,000 words and wrote the exact 1,667 (or over) for all but three of the days.

That’s really great! I’ve just surpassed where I should be for the first week, so as long as I’m not under, I’m very happy!

Book-wise, I’m loving this story a lot and can’t wait to dive back in each day.

Here’s the first week’s breakdown.

Words Written:

November 1st – 2,267
November 2nd – 1,830
November 3rd – 1,530
November 4th – 2,130
November 5th – 1,080
November 6th – 1,670
November 7th – 1,232

Total Weekly Words: 11,739
Where I Should Be: 11,669

And that’s that! Back to it, then!

TIME TO WRITE MORE MORE MORE!!!

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Young Adult: Reading YA as an Adult

I’ve seen several times articles or thoughts about adults reading YA books. That doing so is weird, or that some read them because they’re “easier plots” or “simpler reads,” or for a bunch of other reasons, some positive, most negative. Reading YA when not a teen has a stigma attached to it, as if a True Adult shouldn’t stoop down to read such “childish things.” (This, I find ridiculous. I read just as many adult books as I read young adult books—there are plenty of “easier plots” or “simple reads” in the adult book range and plenty of complex plots and difficult reads in young adult.)

For me, there’s one major reason why I read young adult: I like it. Another reason is, I write a lot of young adult so I read a lot of young adult. But aside from those, there are two factors into why I still read young adult. The first being…there’s a lot of books out in the world. To be more specific, there’s a lot of young adult books out in the world.

By that I mean, I never, ever, ever, ever could have read every young adult that had ever been published in the seven years I was a teenager. Not even just the ones that interested me—I love fantasy and sci-fi and paranormal and dystopia and contemporary and most in between. And because as time goes on, there are just more of them. Sure, a few fall into the chasm of lost books that no one cares about anymore because NEW SHINY BOOKS arrive all the time, but for the most part, books stay on the shelf. Books are there forever once they’re out. The pile of young adult books to choose from just grows and grows. So every year, each new batch of teenagers has even more young adult books to choose from than the last had.

And with the boom of young adult in the last few decades, this is the case for me:

I’m not a fast reader. I own a lot of books. I own a lot of young adult books. And I still haven’t read them all. I likely won’t ever read them all (thought I’d like to at least read the ones I own). To attest to that point, I have a young adult trilogy that I’ve wanted to read since high school but haven’t gotten around to it yet. And it’s not because I don’t want to read that trilogy anymore. I’ll still read them once I’m in the mood, someday, I’m sure. It’s not because I lost interest in them over time so that now they sit on my shelves collecting dust—like so so so much dust, I seriously need to clean my shelves. The reason I haven’t read them is because…I just haven’t yet. Because there’s just so many books, y’all and I’m a slow reader. I always add to my TBR, young adult and adult and anything I find. There’s just more and more and more of them, all the time. So of course, I couldn’t have read them all while being a teen. So I continue reading those YA books I wanted to read then, now as an adult.

And a lot of those YA books I own, still unread? They’re the first fews books of a series that are still being published.

That’s the second factor. That’s the big one for me.

Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters books. Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass books. The Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle. All books that I started reading (or I now own but came out during the time) while I was between the ages of thirteen and nineteen and didn’t finish (or in many cases have yet to finish) until after my teenage years.

I’m now twenty-four. I started reading Cassandra Clare’s mega-series Shadowhunters when I was fifteen or sixteen (the optimal age for those books) and I’ll be thirty when the last trilogy starts being published (according to her estimated release dates she’s posted). THIRTY. I’ll be the age Cassandra Clare was when she started writing the books three years before City of Bones came out in 2007. THIRTY. And you bet, I’ll be reading them. Because I love that world, I like those books, and I want to see it to the end.

And look at Harry Potter. There are legions of adult fans who read them as children/teens and still reread them, still pass them down to other adult friends to read for themselves or to their kids. People started reading Harry Potter at different times in their lives, and the books came out over several years, so there were loads of people finally reading the last book at adult ages. I didn’t even read Harry Potter until I was in high school, years after Deathly Hallows had come out.

Also, when I like an author’s writing or world or whatever, I stick with them. I’ll read anything by my favorite author Victoria Schwab, whether she writes young adult or adult, until I die and I can’t read them or she dies and can’t write them. I started reading her books out of high school (when I had just turned twenty) and started with her young adult books, then with her adult books. But if I had been a teenager while first discovering her, nothing would have changed. I still would’ve continued to read whatever she put out while going into adulthood. I didn’t just think, “Oh, I’m an adult now, I need to stop reading those books even though I love them and love the author.” Because that’s ridiculous.

Seven years between thirteen and nineteen is not a lot of time to discover all the young adult books available. And to stop reading them just because you turn twenty would be silly. And that’s not even mentioning the people who started reading young adult books at the age of thirty or fifty and love them. All of it is great. Read what you want and read it without shame.

Maggie Stiefvater posted a great thread today on Twitter (which is the reason I started thinking about this topic today) that I like. I think there may be an even deeper reason to why adult adults (the people who started reading young adult at thirty or fifty) gravitate toward YA. This is an interesting take on the topic, I agree with it. But I think the vast majority (as you can see from even her poll at the start of the thread) are freshly adult adults. Her first books came out when those 18-24 years olds were young teens. The first Raven Cycle book came out when those 18-24 years olds were 13-19 (and her first YA books were published much earlier than that, which likely led people to the Raven Cycle books to begin with). They probably followed her as a writer and continued to read her books from teenhood to adulthood, as I think is most common, and is exactly as I did.

The point I’m trying to make is that there’s this weird “mystery” to why so many adults read young adult books and it’s really not that big of a mystery. Young people still read them after phasing into adulthood. It’s really as simple as that.

(I very well could be wrong. I don’t have any data to back me up. This is just an opinion post.)

Writing While in a Creative Slump

I’ve been in a creative slump.

For the most part, I try to write as often as I can. It’s what I love to do. Sometimes I write for hours, every day, for a week straight. Sometimes I write for twenty minutes on only one day of the week. It all depends on how much time I’m able to carve out for myself. It’s all about carving out time, making it work, doing what I can.

With doing anything creative, there needs to be a balance of creativity coming in and going out. Refilling the creative well is important: soaking up from all sources (books, films, art, television, life), taking in inspiration and creative energy in order to focus it and use it to produce, to let it flow out. Whenever I’m in a creative slump, and nothing else is working, I know I need to fill the creative well.

But the last few weeks, I’ve been incredibly busy with work—the small business I co-run launched a new product, so we’ve been busy promoting and making the product and sampling at stores a lot. I haven’t had much time to work on anything else, especially writing. I’ve had to make choices with my time and writing hasn’t been winning the time slot. A few times, I carved out a bit of time to write, but sat down and couldn’t get it going—and I knew it was because my creative well was dry, that I was in a creative slump. But I barely had enough time to read or watch anything, let alone write.

A few times, I could’ve carved out more time to fill the well or maybe even try to write, but I chose to do something like getting other work done or spending time with family or watching a few YouTube videos before going to sleep instead. One such YouTube video was by my favorite author, Victoria Schwab. In her video, she talks about when a writer is at their computer, they’re really just transcribing and that writers write all the time, whenever they think about their work—plotting, creating, building. That’s all writing, too. And that had me thinking about my writing time.

So what do I do when I’m unable to carve out writing time and unable to refill the creative well? There’s one thing I know I can do:

Not write. Or, I should say, not transcribe. Seriously. I just don’t do it. I don’t sit at the computer, I don’t pick up a pen. Because sometimes it’s not feasible to do so. I’m not a full-time writer, it’s not my job, so I don’t need to do it. So I don’t.

And that’s okay.

It doesn’t mean I’m not making progress. Because no matter how busy I am, how hectic life is, my brain is always with me. I always have a few stolen minutes to think while doing mundane tasks—showering, driving in the car, lying in bed at night, walking the dog. I always have time to think about the story, the characters, the world—and maybe jot down a note or two. And that keeps it going. Even when I don’t have time to sit at the computer and type out the actual words, just keeping the wheels turning is all I need to do—it’s still being productive, it’s still writing.

Let’s Call It Book E – Writing Update

Over the last two months of the new year, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my writing. I set out this year with a goal in mind and it has already changed. Partly because of weeks and weeks of thought and partly because of a post by Morgan York that solidified my feelings on what I should be writing and what I should focus on to become a published author.

I’ve been writing several projects since I first started taking writing seriously. The first book I ever wrote and finished the first draft of (but definitely not the first book I ever started) is the first in a series of eight books (let’s call it Book A and Series 1). The second book I wrote, was a standalone (Book B). The following, the first book in a series of five (Book C and Series 2). And then, another standalone (though not quite finished) (Book D). My plan has been to work on both Book A and Book C and whichever I deemed the strongest, I would query with. (Book B is terrible, and I think I’ll be shelving it forever, and Book D is the book I won NaNoWriMo and want to finish writing this year, just on the side when I feel stuck on the others, a thing I do often. It’s actually how Book B and Book C were written in the first place, as side projects I worked on when I was stuck on Book A.)

For a while now, I’ve been thinking that trying to query the first book in a series is a bad idea. Almost every author and agent and editor that spreads their knowledge on the internet says it’s better to start with a standalone, but I’ve been stubborn, too attached to the story and characters, too attached to the idea that Book A, and Series 1, would be my first books published. And it didn’t really sink in until I read Morgan’s post, even though I’ve known it for years.

For many reasons, I’ve decided to move on. First, there’s the fact that Book A is going to need a lot more work. As it was the first book I wrote (started in high school and finished in college) it’s not the best. But I have a soft spot for it, it’s my passion project. I’ve rewritten it several times over the years, trying to get it just right, and last fall I realized the major problems with it—which means another rewrite, a realization that came partway through a different rewrite. It’s a mess. I still love the series, I still love the world, but I know it’s just not right. Second, as Morgan states in her post, it’s super hard getting a series published and it’s a lot of work once it is. (Though, I never wrote the sequels of said books, having previous advice to just focus on the first one and try to get that one published first. But it’s hard selling books as a series, especially as a first time author.)

After reading Morgan’s post (and eerily similar writing histories, especially because we’re almost the same age) I realized that maybe the universe wasn’t allowing my books to work quite right because I should be focusing on something else. So I decided to move on from Book A and Book C, shelve both series and work on something new—not just revamping Book B or finish Book D—but something completely new.

Uh…but work on what? I spent the last week or so of January and most of February searching through my ideas folder and disliking everything. I felt like I was in limbo—it’s the first time I’ve never been actively working on a book. So I stopped looking for ideas I’d already had and started trying to think of a new one.

And you know what happened? I ended up thinking about Book A and the entire Series 1 and the world I’d created. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then, something blipped on my creative radar. It was too far away to see what it was yet, but that first spark of an idea is often shy at first. And then it slams into you and you have to spend a solid day writing and thinking and getting everything down that you can. That’s how it happens sometimes. And that’s how it happened for me with the new book.

Let’s call it Book E.

Book E isn’t new, exactly. That’s why it took a while for me to figure it out. Partway through figuring out the idea, I realized that it was connected to Book A and Series 1. It’s in the same book-universe. It even shares a character. But the best part about it, it’s entirely different from Book A, though threads of that world are woven in. And the best part? It’s completely contained. It’s one book, a standalone. A story that starts and finishes all between two covers. Book E could be published and Book A and Series 1 could never be, and it wouldn’t matter (except I’d be sad, because I still love Series 1) but the point is, it’s a better book to query with.

I did it! I practically ran up and down the road screaming with excitement. But I was too busy with that second phase of an idea: Writing everything down before I forget it. Characters, names, places, plot—everything on paper. The last part of February and all of this month has been full of plotting and outlining, piecing together a coherent story from all the ideas that I’d written earlier. And I’m in love with the story and have started drafting. I’m nearly 4k words in and wrote just 1.6k today, the day I posted this.

So now, with Book E in the works, I have new writing goals for the year:

  • Finish drafting Book E and begin revising/editing.
  • Possibly query? Probably begin in 2018.
  • Finish first draft of Book D (NaNoWriMo 2016 Book).
  • Complete NaNoWriMo 2017
  • And maybe, possibly, probably, work more on Book A and Series 1, even just on the side. [insert Brokeback Mountain ‘I wish I knew how to quit you’ gif here]

In all honesty, I think this is for the best. Book E is making me incredibly happy and I think it’s the smartest thing to do going forward on my path to becoming published.

(PS I’m not being secretive with all the Book A, Book B business, most of them don’t have titles yet and it was just easier this way. Book A is tentatively called The Infinite Light and Book C is called Thoughtless.)

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Update #2

Yikes. This week sucked for more than one reason. At the start, we cleared out our entire kitchen (all cabinets empty, stacked up on tables and chairs) and cleaned. Then slowly started reorganizing and putting everything away. That’s taken a lot of time and energy on top of a normal work week. So writing stopped there. And then the election happened and my brain hasn’t quite recovered yet. Slowly, by November 10th, it started to return. A bad week, putting me way behind, but that’s okay. I’ve written 10,000 words of a new story that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do without the NaNoWriMo pressure.

We press on! We write more!

Words Written:
November 6th 0
November 7th 0
November 8th 0
November 9th 0
November 10th 1,059
November 11th 1,898
November 12th 84

Total Weekly Words: 3,041
Running Total: 10,149
Where I Should Be: 20,004