A List of Names

When starting an story idea, I need a name. Not necessarily for the story – a placeholder will do. It’s that meat of the character, and while it sometimes changes, that name also takes part of what it is to be that character. There have been days I poured through the name books or the name sites and tried to find just the perfect sound, the perfect feel, the perfect meaning.

Did it matter to my readers if her name was Paige or Hannah or Claire? Maybe not, but it definitely mattered to me. Connecting to that character meant I had to figure out which she was, and the way she interacted, and how she fit into the book.

Some character are named faster than others. In the current book, my main character is Lorelei. She has been since I thought of her, and she’ll stay that way. Her pilot wasn’t so easy, managing a few variations until I found what I wanted. No one in my writer’s group has complained about the names yet, though I’m still working through some of those details.

During this rewrite, I’ve had to change characters from their own stories to an outside viewpoint- Lorelei’s. It’s an interesting switch, because in the first write I didn’t know which viewpoint I needed to tell.  It makes for a lot of digging between characters when you have to see each one of them from every other character’s perspective. It’s not an exercise I do with every book.

When characters no longer spark something for me, I can’t pretend to give them justice. Those first started novels from junior high and high school still have names that spark something, though not enough to connect with or finish without completely restarting the projects.

Maybe on days like today, when the novel just won’t and the rest has been done, I could just look for a list of names to try to make something with. I found Sia lately, which I wasn’t familiar with, and who knows what that’ll come out to be.

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Where do you look?

Writing is a solitary path. Often it’s just me and the book, staring at each other over the keyboard. Not all of us are meant to follow solitary pursuits, and as a writer I find myself in a group to remind me why I do it.

It’s cold here in Iowa. So cold it feels like we closed the Midwest for a time. No one seems to be talking about much else, whether someone had to go out or not, and when there might be school in the future, and how we might go to school until when we miss this many days.

Luckily, we live in modern eras where we can do it all online if we must. We connect on a daily basis through apps and we can video chat and even – like last night – run meetings watching someone else’s screen for a tutorial on something new. (I got a crash course in canva!)

There’s more to a group than just the writing for me, though. It’s also about keeping up the momentum on my book, which has stalled, and reminding myself that there are reasons to pick it up again. They remind me they want to read it, and they make me remember what I love about these characters.

I keep thinking, this week my kids will be back in school and I can focus on my book. Maybe that’ll be done in June, too, when the landscape’s less a frozen tundra. Winter’s never been my favorite. I experienced it through the front door as I let people in or out, but I didn’t venture into it. Maybe next time.

Since I had extra kids, I pressed them into helping me organize my games. I found the pinkest deck ever: 0130191246

If there’s a pinker deck, I hope I never run across it. I’d feel compelled to buy it for my daughter, who fell in love with this one.

New Year: Deep Thoughts

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Yes, sometimes it is all madness in my brain. I’ve been thinking about the new year a bit, what i want to accomplish, what i think is important, and what i want to focus on.

So, today’s randomness: Why is it we’re focused on the sun side of the equation? Why is the new year arbitrarily only a little bit off from the winter solstice? Is it a mistake, or just an arbitrary day to say was first?

Why is it the Chinese New Year starts somewhere in January or February, depending on the moon? Why do some celebrate a new year starting around Halloween, and others celebrate several different new beginnings?

No one said it had to make sense.

I’m 93k into my current novel rewrite. I’m going to finish it, but I’m not sure when. It’ll help the kids go back to school Thursday. Tonight is for my random ‘new year’ thoughts and what I think I might accomplish other than this rewrite.

More Rewriting

I’m over halfway through my novel rewrite, but I just want to be done. I keep underestimating how much is left, and how long it’ll take me to finish it. Holidays provided an interruption, too, and I always forget about that.

I still worry about where this ought to be, and where that could be, and if this will be the right structure when I’m finished. Then I physically count how many pages are left to go through and I know I need to complete a lot more.

Today I’m staring at a conversation between two characters who are not my POV character and trying to figure out how to put that into my POV character’s view. It’s something I don’t want to lose in the rewrite.

Most of it has come together in a way that I like, that seems better than the last draft, that tells the story I hope to share. There are a lot fewer notes about in brackets and all caps that dotted the first draft. (I think there’s only two.) It’s been hard to stay focused on it, but I’ve been working on it nearly every day for the last few months. Will it be another month or two until I finish?

I feel like I’ve hit that second hard spot- where I’m ready to go on to another project and just let this one sit. That’s the hardest part about sitting down to write with it every day – that I just don’t want to continue with it but start on something else. Except I’m still sitting down to write it. What do you do when you hit those blocks?

At least when I’m finished writing for the day, I get to beta-read a friend’s novel. Can’t wait to promote it.

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Yes, I nearly always rewrite with a copy of the old draft near me. For some reason physical copies help me move through the process, and no matter how many times I tell myself it’s the same digitally I stall.

Post-NaNo Loveliness

I managed 50 000 words in November. Barely. I finished the very last day, which has never happened in all the years I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo. (That’s eleven, if anyone else is counting.)

Barely still counts. My draft is still going, rewriting all of that thing is taking a while. I passed 75 000 words today. I had to take time to figure out where my antagonists have been heading, and where they need to end up, but it’s going to end up where they’re supposed to be.

This draft started out as a huge struggle. I didn’t think it was working. I couldn’t focus on what was going right in it because I was so worried about what I lost from the previous one. I’ve never taken such a large project and tried to change so many things in a draft at once: POV, plot structure, and world-building.

I know the world-building isn’t quite all there, but it’s coming together a lot better. I’m excited to sit down with this book every day (and I work on it almost every day). Other than that, I’ve gotten far enough – over halfway – to see that what I gained might be more than what I lost in this draft.

Probably also good to note that every time I bring those other characters in the room, I know the secrets behind their eyes. I just wish I could share more of them. And that, as what my writer’s group reminded me, is what short stories for novel promotion are for! So when I finish this draft, and that might even happen this month, I have even more to work on.

Good thing I really love this book.

November

It’s National Novel Writing Month, and I’m rewriting a book. It’s never an easy process, and I’m at that point of wondering whether it’s going to have to happen again. On a first draft, I really write whatever comes to mind despite that outline, and it’s only when the words are down that I see what goes and what doesn’t.

Yes, I do the same thing with short stories. They’re just shorter.

My family took a long car ride today, and I had both my binders, both my notebooks, and my tablet for reference. It’s amazing the things that simply roll out of my memory for this book and the things that I think I ought to know but I have to look up every single time.

My writer’s group is taking a look at parts of it, and I find they love most of the characters I love, and they hate a few things that I’m sure need to happen, and all of us have to remind me often that it’s an ambitious project.

One of the best parts is my early-morning writing buddy. We write together every November, sometimes at what I would normally think of as an insane hour. We write across time zones and genres and anything else that might get in the way. It’s one of the best parts of November.

I’m excited to see what this book looks like after the rewrite, though. It’s more focused on where that conflict needs to go.

I have the quiet part of the evening to look through that zero draft to figure out what I’m going to rewrite tomorrow.

Writing Goals

I find it hard to write goals. It isn’t that I don’t have them, but I find it much easier to meet goals when they’re on short pieces, and right now I’m in the middle of a novel.

It’s gotten to the point, though, that I’m really excited about it. I’m not usually the kind of person who looks forward to editing and rewriting. But something happened with this book, and I can feel it coming together. I’m almost at the end of act i in the rewrite. I’m not sure if I ought to stop and describe more (my biggest issue in the story, it seems), or if I ought to make sure the structure works through to the end.

Other than that book, I have three short stories from this year that need to be sent out. One has one rejection and one has two. Certainly not enough to give up on them. And the newest one might be my favorite of the three.

Then I look at the short stories I’ve been writing, and sometimes I want to ask when it all became so creepy.

Other than that, I’m working hard on a writer’s group. I’m excited about the entire group, and I’m really interested to see where it goes. That’s the other reason rewriting has been fun – they’re reading my book.but I’m also reading theirs, and I’m seeing a lot of great things happening there.

I’m also looking hard at where my time goes while I’m finding time to rewrite. My part-time job and kids’ activities take up 20 hours every week, which doesn’t include my drop-off and pick-up from school (another 5 hours).

Lately I’ve been cleaning my office and creating room on my desk for that novel-in-progress. It’s helped me get there and sit down and actually do the work. And anything that gets me to be able to sit down and focus definitely needs to be repeated.

So, goal: one novel and three short stories, ready or already out by the end of this year. I should see if I have the idea to write one more by year’s end, too.

Also, the recent rains have made several roads near me look like this. Hoping it’ll dry out soon. dreamstime_xxl_95997192.jpg

Edits in Progress

I have been rewriting a book for a while now. I thought I would get it done last fall/winter, but then I found out my ankle was broken. (That’s a longer story, so we won’t get into that.) Somewhere along the road of surgery and physical therapy, the draft ended up on one side of the room, and I sat on the other, unable to walk.

Summer I pulled it out again, and then I got stuck on chapter 4 when my husband went to Mexico for work. (Travel happens, and while I’m stuck inside my house when kids are sleeping, there’s some magical time for writing.)

When I finally put myself back on the schedule at my writer’s group, I hadn’t really gotten back to it. Yet when the deadline came, I forced myself through the chapter that had me stranded for a couple months.

The most amazing part there, is I didn’t stop. I’ve worked through 15k words in 11 days, and the 11th day isn’t over yet. I’m juggling time with some other deadlines, but it’s going well.

For those of you who’ve met me, you know I’m an extrovert. But the weirdest thing happened this week – I want to go home and work on my book. I don’t want to go out for coffee or lunch; I’d really rather be home working on my story. I had to grocery shopping today and half of me wanted to just get enough stuff not to leave for a month, but that never works.

If you remember my road woes, they’ve finally patched the blacktop… ish. And they’ve cut off the road going the other way out of my house so I drive by this a lot more. Whee! 0921180813a.jpg

Writer’s Group and a Water Main Break

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Water everywhere isn’t beautiful in the neighborhood.

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Six hours of work and a road crew plus an extra load of gravel three days later. We’ve had a lot of rain.

What’s that got to do with a writer’s group? I’ve been running one this year. I didn’t think that was on my list of things to do, but… when a lack of leadership wasn’t working, I stepped up. I made rules. I propose all kinds of things that might be good ideas and might not.

I’m not making it up as I go along. It isn’t quite writing.

Back to that novel. I hear it calling. I also know someone’s waiting to read it.

Running in April

Seventeen weeks post-surgery today. It feels like forever. There have been many challenges and even new appreciation of the five stages of grief.

My treatment plan said things that seemed impossible at the beginning – like that I would be running in April. It’s April, and I have jogged at a pace only slightly faster than walking exactly three times. I can jump without that agonizing pain through my foot and ankle now, though that’s a fairly recent development. I still have to work to keep the plantar fasciitis under control – something I never had before but is a new side effect of wearing the split and cast and boot for a combined 8 weeks.

I have two friends who have seen me through all of this, plus my family (parents, husband, and children). Even those who weren’t physically present every week still cheered me on when they saw me, commented on my progress, and asked when I’d be fully recovered.

I’m still figuring out how to answer that question. The end of PT is not a full recovery, but I’m allowed to do what I had before within the limits of the pain. That’s an interesting distinction that I hadn’t paid attention to in previous injuries. But none of those really prepared me for an ankle break like the one I did last summer, the way it could get better but not fully heal, and the surgery that followed.

I’m allowed to go back to the martial arts – and I’m can go until the edge of the pain. I did fairly well for my first attempt; I’m proud that I only once kicked the bag too hard for my ankle. One of the other women who goes said I didn’t lose anything being gone. It’s nice to hear, but she wasn’t my partner so she didn’t see me do most of those really easy kicks.

It’s taken a long time to see that I’m really going to achieve this goal.

Back to the writing goals, then, right? I never would have believed that it took so much from my head to have surgery on my ankle. That just being in so much pain – I was in a lot of pain before, the surgery, too – could disrupt so many creative processes that I simply think are part of who I am.

This week I took a story to my writing group, and two of them said they cried. It’s taken six weeks to refine that story to a point where I really found that point I wanted to make, and it’ll take one or two more to polish it up.

I’ve pulled up that novel I really keep thinking I’m going to get together, and it’s coming apart at the seams. I like to whisper to myself that I’ll have more hours once I’m recovered, that I’ll be able to spend that PT time doing edits, and that once I have more brain space because I’m not dealing with all of that pain it’ll come together.

I’m not sure how much of that is simply wishful thinking and how much I’m just going to fatigue my arms dragging that binder around. My yoga teaching has changed when it comes to balance and footwork, so that we’re strengthening these parts, too, and I’m targeting other body parts to learn more about in my spare time.

Spare time? I don’t know why we even label it spare time, since it’s that few moments that we carve out from doing all the other things that are clamoring for our attention. Reading has been easiest during recovery, and I finally picked up sewing until my hand cramped, and I might have even decided to become a dungeon master in D&D. If that seems like an odd jump, it is. We’re really not sure how we started a game that way, and neither are any of the rest of them.

I feel accomplished. I have done everything asked of me, and then some. I have been patient and I have slowly increased my activities until I could do it. I won’t have it all in there until about next week, but it’s pretty exciting to be at this place. I have noticed I feel better this week.

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