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In Which I Gush About My Friends.

On our recent, second hike up Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe, Scotland.
On our recent, second hike up Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe, Scotland.

It’s been a crazy few weeks with this whole moving-house thing. IntoΒ our own house. Yeah. I’ll probably say that phrase about 500 more times before we sell it and move back up to Scotland. πŸ˜‰ I’m often fond of tallying my many moves – this marks my 32nd that I can remember. Not because I love to move. I despise it, in fact. It always makes me feel unstable, and a little lost. I guess I like considering how many times I’ve survived it in the past, because I still have yet to feel like this is THE move. But for now, it’s a biggie.

On top of that, my writing time has been sporadic yet I’ve been burning with flames.. flames, on the side of my face.. breathing, breath – heaving… Okay. If you’ve never seen the movieΒ Clue, you’ve missed out on this classic bit from Madeline Kahn (Mrs. White). A-hem. Yes, I’ve been on fire with things to write and thanks to some guy named Murphy and his law, that’s precisely when I’ve no time to do it.

That said, this past week a few friends – the kind I never see because I’m an ocean away – have been instrumental in helping me see I should not give up. Brad, Joy, and Kerry, thank you so much for the kind words. More than that, thank you for sharing your valuable time, and in some cases, own struggles with me. In general, I am so grateful to have wonderful CPs, and rad friends who might not write but don’t mind reading. πŸ˜‰

In the midst of some recent annoying self-doubts, everywhere I’ve turned – the awesome writer blogs I follow, random devotional books dotted around the flat, a quote on a daily calendar my Mom thought to share with me – things keep jumping out that smack aside those doubts and tell me to just get on with it. So yeah… it’s been busy, but it’s been good, I think.

I hope your October is off to a great start, and if you’re a fellow writer, get those NaNo plans in place! πŸ™‚

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Borrowing Light.

This week I received two fantastic emails. One was from a friend I’ve never met, who ironically lived in two cities I lived in, but never when I was living there, and now he lives in one of them again. The other was from a writing instructor from a workshop I participated in awhile back. Sometimes you hear just what you need, when you need it, and I’m so grateful for it.

I asked for honest advice, and I received it – and it surprised the heck out of me. They both believe in me, and neither one gains anything from it – one’s not a writer but a reader, and the other is a bestselling author, so I don’t think they need my feedback on their work. πŸ˜‰

Because writing can be so solitary, it’s heartwarming to find you’re not just wandering around in the dark on your own, fumbling from one attempt to the next, being a harsher critic on yourself than anyone else. There are others out there, and sometimes their lights are better to see by than your own. Just want to encourage you not to feel like no one will understand, because it’s simply not true.

Thanks, friends. You know who you are. πŸ™‚

One a similar note, I made a new friend today, on Twitter. We’ve followed each other for awhile, both writers working on non-conformist fantasies (haha), and her attitude really encouraged me on this drizzly, 58-degree-typical-British-weather day.

I took this photo only 3 weeks ago, in Glenfinnan, Scotland where I’d stripped down from a jumper, scarf, and hiking trousers to shorts and a tank top by 10 a.m. I’m going to pretend it’s still this marvellous outside.

Loch Shiel, Scottish Highlands
Loch Shiel, Glenfinnan, Scottish Highlands

#WriteMotivation Update

I won’t bother to re-list my writing goals for the month, suffice it to say I ACTUALLY FINISHED THEM in the first week. I’ve spent this past week entering a few contests (and not the online variety), making notes for and researching my next story, and reading. Currently on C.J. Sansom’s DISSOLUTION, and really enjoying it. Hoping to read and enjoy (rather than plow through, which never does me any good) more books this month than I have in awhile.Β 

Have a great week, and I wish for you a bit of light that fills a dark corner when you least expect it. πŸ™‚

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NaNoWriMo and November #WriteMotivation Wrap-up

I just realised my first #Writemotivation and NaNo post for November was saved as a draft . . . and never published. This is the ultimate example of how scattered my brain has been. My great ability to start things and not finish them has reared its head this year. Well, that’s quite enough ofΒ that. If nothing else, I hereby dedicate 2013 to be the year of finishing projects/tasks/goals I start, and being able to happily point at finished products before moving on to the next thing.

To everyone who wrote *any* words during November for NaNo, WELL DONE! A lot of friends and Twitterers have said they focused more on the quality of the words they wrote this year, as opposed to just throwing whatever up there in order to “win”, and I’m wholeheartedly in this camp. I think NaNo is an awesome motivator for people to get pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. It’s rewarding to be writing alongside others, even if they’re fellow storytellers we’ll never meet, and this is never more obvious to me than during NaNo, so thank you to everyone who shared encouraging words on Twitter πŸ™‚

Writing Ahead of the Blank Wall

My goals for November #Writemotivation and NaNo were the same: add 50k to my WIP, A BREATH OF SILVER, and I succeeded. This time I tried something different though – I have the synopsis for the story down, all the pivotal story points and the ending, but it was the little details and connecting scenes that I began to struggle with halfway through the month. Some days I wrote nothing. Two weekends my husband and I were away so I got nothing down, but I secretly revelled in these excuses to take a break. Then I decided to do what someone suggested: write what I know right now. I wrote some pivotal scenes I’ve had simmering for awhile, and in doing so, on the spot I came up with details, characters, and side plots that I’ll have to explain later.

For instance, my MC–Bryn–travels from North London to Scotland in 1691. The last scene in chronological order I wrote was her arrival north of the border. Then when I blanked on what happens between her arrival in Scotland to her life at her ancestral clan’s Highland castle, I jumped several months ahead to her trying to fit in, what job she’s doing there, and what friends and rivals she’s made. That meant I immediately had to make up the peripheral characters and situations that would propel her to the next plot point: meeting a romantic interest and major character. It also means that the bits that will come in between her arrival in Scotland and her life at the castle are now sketched out, and backtracking to write these scenes will be much easier.

The point is, I think sometimes you need to move forward to fill the gap. It can be a massive chasm of unknown obstacles, characters, creatures, threats. There could be anything in there, particularly as this is first and foremost a fantasy. But when I jumped to the other side of that ravine, since I know what happens there, I can look back easier than I could look forward. I know some are totally against writing out of order, but I’m finding it really does get my creative juices flowing when I’ve reached a wall. So, you never know until you try. If you’re stuck, I recommend it! But probably only if you’ve got a solid overall synopsis constructed first.

It felt great to reach my goals this month for the first time in awhile, and special thanks to Leigh Caroline, Megan Peterson, and Andrew Patterson for encouragement, and Susan Dennard and Sarah J. Maas for their fabulous #NaNoWriMoBattle word sprints that seriously pushed me! Hope everyone enjoyed pressing forward in their goals this month, and are enjoying the holiday season!

Oh yeah, and yesterday was a year since my husband proposed to me πŸ™‚ Nice to see my ring has survived everything I’ve put it through, including climbing Helvellyn in the Lake District covered in snow, climbing the highest peak in England & Wales (Snowdon), as well as other hills, scurrying down rocks to reach a hidden cove in Cornwall, jumping off a boat into the freezing-cold Mediterranean, and many other adventures. Here’s to many more πŸ™‚ <3

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