Blog Post #34
The last morning I spent on the deck was crisp, my mug of tea a welcome source of heat. The leaves have been turning gold and burgundy and lifting free to follow the wind. The daylight dims earlier each day, and I can see National Novel Writing Month on the horizon. I sort of figured this month I’d be too busy for down time, but I seemed to have found it despite tours, parties, and weddings already in place. September has ended and autumn has begun to settle in.
And now for the word counts.
The Writing Front
I’m just under the half way mark at three quarters of the way through the year. I must remember not to be so hard on myself to meet all my goals. It’s sort of the aim for the moon theory. Even if I miss, maybe I’ll still land among the stars. Or die of asphyxiation in the dark cold void of space. Or freeze to death first. You know. Hopeful thoughts.
I’m not hitting goals, but I’m still getting something done in this aspect of my life. I opened up the word counts from last year, and a year ago I was still sitting at only 25,634 words. That at least helps me keep things in perspective. I made a commitment to myself, and though I might be stumbling, at least I am still giving it more dedication that I have in the past.
What I’ve Been Writing This Month
I bet you’re wondering what I’ve been writing since this year’s major writing project From the Woods You Came is currently with my editor. And if you’re not wondering, maybe you should wonder because you’re about to find out anyway. Luckily my word count tracker has a nice spot for comments and notes next to every daily word count entry because I honestly wasn’t sure what I was working on either since I wasn’t focused so intently on a single project.
From the looks of it, it’s all outlining and story boarding. Yay, new stories in progress! Boo, it’s all outlining and story boarding, which means no “useable” words or at least no words that will make it into the final print save some random lines of dialog that usually pop into my head during the outlining process. One of those stories is about Wonderland which started out as a short story based on a dream I had which has grown into this major story/novel/potential novel series that follows it up. The initial short story brings to light things that will impact the plot line of the major story, so that shorter tale is on hold until I can finish figuring out the plot line of the major story. Let me tell you I’ve been reading all about ravens and writing desks trying to figure that one out.
The really big dent in last month’s writing centered on a story in a genre I’ve never really written before – fantasy. I’m okay with supernatural creatures and magic, but mine tends toward the urban sort. Making up a world for no reason at all isn’t my usual thing, but it sort of started a while ago when I just thought it might be fun to have an apothecary character out foraging with someone watching over her, and just having her so super distracted by the plants that she is near oblivious to the danger all around her. I dropped 5,000 words on that idea this month alone (I already had around 2,000 about the character before this). Yeah. Here’s the recap of how that went down:
Me: Hey, look, Brain, you can take a break for a while since we have to wait for edits of From the Woods You Came.
Brain: …maybe look at this apothecary character you made up a while ago? I know it’s not your usual genre, but it would be a lot of fun to make up a whole new fantasy world, right? A crazy magic system would be cool. And some sort of mercenary guild. And then a bear attacks…
(7000 words later)
Lesson: I cannot leave my brain unattended. It gets bored and weird stuff happens.
Additionally this month, I obviously wrote a blog post, but most importantly, I worked a lot on my outline for NaNoWriMo.
Writing in Background
Okay, I know I said that the writing for outlining doesn’t “count” but if that writing doesn’t count even if it’s helping me world build and figure out characters, then the other writing I’ve been doing this month probably doesn’t even exist. No, really. As far as the world is concerned, this type of writing doesn’t exist. I just, I know I’ve been avoiding a lot of emotional stuff this year and burying my head in projects and such (because emotions, what emotions?). I know that’s not healthy, so I went back to journaling. Yeah. Handwritten. In a notebook. With real ink. Pages upon pages until my hand went numb. I haven’t journaled like that since Live Journal was a thing, and to be honest, I feel more myself for having gotten back into it. That’s a lot of what this year has been for me, looking for who I used to be and getting reacquainted with the stranger that is myself.
National Novel Writing Month Approaches
For those of you who don’t know or haven’t heard of it before, November is National Novel Writing Month, often shortened to NaNoWriMo or just NaNo. The goal is to write a 50,000 word story in that one month. If you want to know more, you can find out about it here.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably know that last year, after a lot of mental debate (mostly me saying ‘fuck it, let’s do this’), I attempted and won NaNoWriMo. It’s encouraged that for your first time attempting NaNo, you choose a project that you have no writing on whatsoever, a blank slate. It took me a while to figure out what I would even want to write that I hadn’t already at least jotted some notes down for. Tabla rasas aren’t something I keep lying around as far as ideas are concerned. Usually I’ve got at least a scene or two written of every idea I’ve had that would have enough bulk to truly be novel length.
I thought of my main novel series, the one with vampires and knights, and how much I had already written for it and knew that I couldn’t use any one of those stories because I’d already started them. Then, as if it only occurred to me, there was a story I never intended to tell in that world, one that really would be fun to explore on my own time, that would be fun to release later, that would help me mentally fill in the background world of my main story, with scenes that I knew the bare hints of but not the brutal depths.
So I conceived of Street Light People and two other books as kind of prequel trilogy for the blank slate gift to myself. The second one is announced currently on NaNo. I’ve dubbed it, On the Edge of the Night. It was a lot of fun while writing Street Light People to initially throw myself into the early 1980s, a time period before I was born, and into research about San Francisco, a place I’ve never been. I learned a lot about the history of the city, important landmark, and events. I found, though, that having to do research on top of everything else bogged down my writing speed a bit. Granted, I listened to “Under Pressure” before every writing session with that book to get me in the right mind set, but still I think I was restrained by being so far removed, and the point of a NaNo project was to liberate the writer.
This year, since I’m writing a sequel, I decided to spend some time working on my outline. There’s a bit of a time jump between the end of the last book and the beginning of the one I plan to write, the introduction of new characters, as well as new nefarious plots to uncover. I hope that working this all out beforehand will really help me when it comes time to actually write. If I know what feelings and things I want to bring up ahead of time, I can put my attention there on the words and the sentence structure rather than on the technology of the time and other research I may need to do.
Maybe I should just binge watch a bunch of eighties cop movies while I’m at it. Honestly though, I really think prep work is the way to go. With From the Woods You Came even, doing all those character profiles really helped me know who the characters were, so that when it came time to write about them, I knew them enough already that when I was writing, I wasn’t wasting words trying to ‘find’ them, but rather I using the right words to show them off in the best way to reflect who those characters were as people. I feel like this October, if I spend this entire month doing prep work on the new characters and ‘finding’ the plot line, I won’t waste a lot of words when I actually have to write come November first. I won’t have to think about what has to go onto that blank page, I will know it.
Wish me luck!
Love and Lighting,
M. L. Trumbull