Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Taking time off, for a good reason...

As the subject states, I will be taking some time off of writing and blogging. I haven't given up on becoming a published author someday, there have just been some changes in my daily life that need to be addressed first. Right now there simply isn't enough time or free space in my brain to accomplish everything and my family has to come first.

The puzzle piece ribbon is used by some autism...Image via Wikipedia

This past week, my two-year old son was diagnosed with autism (yeah, ironic considering April is autism awareness month...). Now that we officially have a diagnosis, my days are filled with doctor appointments, therapy sessions, and learning how to implement treatment programs. Oh yeah, and going through the stages of accepting this diagnosis. While this whole ordeal is difficult on our son, he's always had it, we just never knew. Us, as his parents, on the other hand, are having to learn everything about this disorder while trying to come to terms with what's in store for him in the future. Right now it feels as if everything is speeding by so fast and I'm struggling to learn everything I can to help my son thrive in spite of this condition.

So, until things settle down and we develop some sort of regular schedule that our son is thriving on, the second draft of my novel will have to wait. Providing the day-to-day support that he needs in order to one day develop some form of communication is truly a full-time job (but worth every minute of it knowing how it will help him later in life). It hurts to think how close I am to being done, but I know my priorities and Family > Writing.

Thank you everyone for your support and advice in my journey into writing my first novel. I'm not giving up on writing and I won't be gone forever, but I do need to take some time off. Maybe I should consider this as time away from the novel so I can return to it at a later date with fresh eyes... Maybe it's just wishful thinking...

Either way, until I'm able to blog again...
Talk 2ya later...

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Writer's A.D.D.

I have self-diagnosed myself with having Writer's A.D.D. It wasn't all that hard to do really, I have all of the symptoms...
  • So many ideas spinning around in my head that I can't focus on anything
  • Jumping from one part of the story to another because... "oooh, what if I did this, here?!" (very similar to SOS - Shiny Object Syndrom)
  • etc...
(Oh yeah, disclaimer: I'm not a medical doctor, but I could write myself in a story where I am one... Oh, and there is no such disease as Writer's A.D.D., but it makes me feel better thinking that there's a medical term for what I'm suffering from, lol!)

I need to start meditating again or something. Anything to get my mind to calm down and let me work on one thing at a time. When this would happen during the first draft, I would just do a free write with all of my ideas and I'd be all set to start implementing them. That's not even working this time! Halfway through a note for one idea and my brain is already racing ahead to the next idea.

The excitement of getting this far in the process must have fried my brain. Well, that along with the burst of creativity that hit me once I started thinking about what needed to happen in the second draft. I'm sure my inability to make a decision regarding my main character's age isn't helping either though...

Today, I'm going to try organizing all of my notes for the story to see if that helps organize them in my brain as well. Maybe, having everything together in one document will convince my brain that we have it all down... no need to worry about forgetting something. I'd do just about anything to calm my thinking right now, my brain has more energy than my two-year old... and that's impressive!

Thanks for all of the amazing comments on my last post by the way. Your comments and advice on the situation really helped me realize that I have to stay true to my characters and do what is best for the story. Overall, I've decided that if I can't commit to a decision and support it 100%, then I'm not going to change anything, yet. Down the road, should I decide to change her age or if an editor or agent wants it changed, I know what needs to be done. So, thanks again! You guys are the best!

But, anywho... Off to round up my notebooks and documents so I can start my "second draft to-do list"...

Until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...


Saturday, April 4, 2009

So many questions...

My poor little head is spinning. The rewrites on Instinct aren't confusing me, I pretty much know what needs to be done there... it's a new change I'm considering that has me unsure of what to do next.

First a little backstory (yay! the dreaded info dump!). I submitted part of my story to an online critique group anonymously and some of the comments have me thinking. There were a lot of stupid mistakes on my part that I'm not sure how I missed, but some of the other comments were deeper than just SPaG (Spelling, Punctuation, & Grammar) errors.

The first issue that got me thinking, people seemed to agree that my voice is very YA. That's pretty cool as most of my story ideas are definitely YA, except Instinct. To be honest, I'm not sure how to classify this story. Right now my main character, Casey, is 21 and attending the police academy. I know that due to her age, this would be a tough sale as a YA, even though I think that the story itself could go either way, YA or adult.

On the same note as the last comment, I've had several people ask if I couldn't just change Casey's age to maybe 18. Before, I would always say, "No, it wouldn't work with the story or the series..." but now, I'm not so sure. I originally chose Casey's age based off of the requirements for the real Boston Police Academy, minimum age of 21 and have lived in Boston for 1 year (I wanted the story to be as believable as possible).

But, I am writing fiction, aren't I? Would it be horrible if the academy in my story had a minimum age requirement of say... 18? I'm taking liberties on the timing and content of her classes and training, why shouldn't I fudge the admissions requirements while I'm at it? I'm taking liberties with the entire city of Boston since I've never actually been there. I don't want to pull people out of the story who have been a part of the police academy, but I need to do what's best for my story at the same time, you know?... [Head Spinning Moment]

The more I thought about changing her age, the more the story seemed to make sense. I had found a couple of plot holes and other problems and this change would fix most of them.
  • Why would her father, all of a sudden, insist that she have a roommate if she's been living in Boston for 3 years? She couldn't have been living with Heather the whole time or their dynamics wouldn't be believable. Her having a different roommate before doesn't make much sense either though, it's very obvious that Heather is her first roommate.
  • What actually released her gift? If her turning 18 triggered it, that would make sense.
  • Why is she so anti-social to begin with and why, in her three years living in Boston, did she never try to change this on her own? Being 18 and fresh out of high school would work with her backstory as to why she's not over her past enough to make the changes on her own.
  • Why is she so emotional and having other specific problems? Still a teenager, yet expected to act like an adult... that would definitely be believable.
  • And a few others...
I always wanted Instinct to be YA, but didn't know how well it would work given what I knew about the story in the past. Now that the first draft is done and I know the entire story, I think that it would really work.

Well, I'd have to alter one of her love interests too... maybe make him a Ph.D. student instead of a young associate/assistant professor (can't remember which is the correct term off the top of my head, but it's in my notes). That would work well too, make him a TA... would explain why he doesn't really have his own office...

But anywho... If I can get past the whole, "I want my story to be as accurate as possible, except for the paranormal aspects" (which, you never know, they could be true...) then, I think it would really work well. I'm doing rewrites now anyway, so this would be the best time to implement these changes...

But my questions for you, my dear readers.
  • Would an age change in this case be believable? Would you believe a story where an 18 year old was a police cadet?
  • Is 18 still too old for a YA story? I can think of several YA books that had characters with similar ages, but they were still in high school and Casey has graduated.

Well, I'm off to write up notes on these potential changes and maybe skim through the chapters and see if there's any major issues with her being 18 that I'm forgetting.

So, until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's Back!

My writing mojo that is.

Calligrapher, 1984Image by kattebelletje via Flickr

I've been in such a funk lately, not sure why I haven't been inspired to write up my last few chapters on Instinct to finish the first draft... now I know why. The chapters I have left suck! I can see why I outlined them in the beginning, but over half of them aren't going to make the final cut in this story. Sure, the scenes actually happened to Casey, but the reader doesn't need to be bored with all of those details when they don't really further the plot.

I made a decision this morning. My first draft is DONE!

Sure, I have a couple of chapters that aren't "complete", but I have them fully outlined and the parts that aren't complete will most likely be changed anyway. I'm starting on my second draft and feel that unexplainable energy that I felt writing the story before. I started seeing the characters in my head again and envisioning scenes that need reworked. It's an amazing feeling let me tell you!

I'm going to re-read a section of chapters that are done today to get ready to work in the mythology information. In my head I can see how to make this work where it isn't an info dump now! Woot!

As for my other to-do list:

1. Layer in some scenes for a major character that kind of got pushed to the background in his scenes: I have so many ideas for how to do this now. This is going to be so much fun!

2. Add in some extra paranormal aspects to Casey's gift and their ramifications to the plot: Love, love, love this idea now! The best part is that I get to add in these same abilities on a couple other characters. And this helps explain what happens to one character at the end perfectly.

3. Rewrite 2-3 scenes from another character's POV: I know at least two chapters that I want for this, but need to see if the chapter after that can be reworked from his POV as well. It's a tricky situation because I need to let the reader get to know this character without giving too much away that would ruin the twist at the end.

4. Figure out what I'm going to do with my "boring" scenes: Well, this one is fairly easy. Most of them are going to be cut or completely re-outlined to the point where I might as well cut them and start from scratch.

I was really starting to wonder if I'm meant to be a writer or not. It's a bit disconcerting to have your writing mojo fizzle like mine did on this story. Now I realize that I was trying to force myself to finish my boring chapters instead of following my own "instincts" that said to start the rewrites. I am so happy to be back to this frame of mind and see things being written fairly quickly in the coming month.

You wanna know how giddy this change in attitude has me? Well, it's no secret that I am NOT a morning person, but I woke up early this morning (well, early for me... especially on a day that my husband is watching the toddler). But anywho, I woke up and realized what I needed to do and everything came together so wonderfully in my head. My favorite scenes started playing themselves in my head as I re-acquainted myself with the characters that have been so silent for the past weeks and months. I grabbed my bedside notebook and started scribbling down notes and ideas. The excitement is so intense that I'm not sure how I'll get through reading over a couple of chapters before I dig in and start writing.

I haven't drank alcohol in about three years because of the whole pregnancy and nursing thing, but I think I'm buzzing on this writing mojo feeling! Woo, riding the writing high!

For anyone else who feels like they've lost their writing mojo, I have some advice: re-evaluate what you are trying to do with the story. Are you trying to make yourself go against your instincts? Toss out your preconceived notions on how a writing process is supposed to go and just do things your own way. When you really think about it, every known writing process started off as someone's instinct that ended up working so wonderfully that people emulated it. Maybe someday people will be following your process!

But, I need to get to work organizing my notes and reading a few chapters that need rewrites.

So, until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...

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