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Don’t Give Up! #Writemotivation June Check-In

So I’m late again on my #Writemotivation check-in! What is #Writemotivation, you might ask, if you’ve somehow stumbled on this blog?

My first full MS paper edit. Scary. But good.
My first full MS paper edit. Scary. But good.

Check out the link. K.T. Hanna has masterminded a group of cheering, supportive, amazing, talented, and varied writers who all encourage one another through their monthly goals via blogs and Twitter. Now on Google+!

Last post I mentioned I started using the Pomodoro technique. I’m here to report after little over a week, it’s done wonders for my productivity. I’m using PomodoroApp, and it seems to be keeping me focused on one task at a time, as well as showing me how long it’s taken to do tasks. I’m not just using this for writing, though. Oh no. Everything’s gone on here – from job hunting to weekly cleaning chores to my consistently-behind Inbox to even-more-consistently-behind crit work. I may still be behind on some of these items, but it’s really been a big help. Check it out!

Two quotes this week which kind of tie in together. But first, an awesome video and song (and band) that I’m late to the party discovering but am in LOVE with now:

It conjures so many story ideas. I can’t get enough of it. (Even if they do kinda borrow the Patronus visual ;))

Querying & Quotes

For those of you querying right now – and possibly using the crap out of Query Tracker and Publishers Marketplace in the process – a few encouraging quotes. Feedback, polishing, revising, even rewriting. Don’t give up. If you love and believe in your story, and keep doing your best, I believe things will happen. You have to believe that, or there’s no point, right? Here are a few quotes that are in my head this week:

This from EliteDaily.com:

The difference between the successful minority and the general majority is simply that the former group keeps coming back stronger after each rejection, not letting anyone get to them and deter their efforts in any facet of life. They create no excuses or rationalizations, nor do they accept limits. Those are the people that know how to get what the want and apply the focus and discipline necessary to achieve their ends. They’re resilient, cool and collected. They end up winning.

I recommend the entire article. It can be applied to anything. It’s a great reminder to STOP with the excuses. Take whatever feedback I get about my writing, sift through it for the gold and let the rest go. Out of all the critical feedback (and I don’t mean snarky trolls on contests, etc. because those people will always exist. Don’t feed them. Don’t explain to them. Leave their meanness to their big old meanie selves and move on.) … I’ve forgotten what I was saying. Yes. Out of all the great feedback I’ve been given, I’d say a good 65% of it has truly applied, and made a big difference in a revision. The writing community is overflowing with people who want to help others, even if it’s just a shake of pom-poms.

Most fellow writers want to see your story shine, and will give you advice that if duplicated by others, you probably want to seriously consider. But even the feedback that surprises you, that you bristle at…. give it a shot. Consider how your story would be different if you followed their advice, and if that means writing out a paragraph with their suggestion and comparing it with your original, do it. It just might lead to a world of difference. The smallest suggestions by a recent editor who gave me advice on my first 4 chapters were the ones that made me look at things in a whole new light.

Me on the Isle of Staffa, Scotland, from our trip the other week.
On the Isle of Staffa, Scotland, from our trip last week.

Quote #2 from Max Lucado, one of my favorite inspirational authors, from his book GREAT DAY EVERY DAY:

Do you let anyone who knocks on your door enter your house? Don’t let every thought that surfaces dwell in your mind . . . Negative thoughts never strengthen you. How many times have you cleared a traffic jam with your grumbles? Does groaning about bills make them disappear? “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NCV).

I don’t let just any Joe Blogs in my house, so why the heck do I let every thought that appears in my head linger and grow? So you got one rejection today. Or five. Don’t let those negative thoughts that want to tell you you can’t linger. Don’t let irrational worries hang about. Reject them. I’m trying to learn how. It seems revolutionary to think that I don’t have to let worries, fears, and negativity hang about. Why didn’t someone tell me this before? That, in fact, I’m the only one with the power to make them go away?

Write Motivation June Goals

1) Complete Revision #2 (paper revision) of WIP This is what I’m mostly focused on this month. I’ve never printed a complete MS before. This is scary but it’s amazing. For each chapter, I’m reading and making notes on the paper copy, making noted changes in Scrivener, and then either printing this revised copy to check for errors, or reading on the screen for errors. It’s slow, but I’m cutting so much fat. 
2) Find 2 CPs/betas willing to read as soon as this revision is done!
3) Rewrite synopsis This will come when I finish 1). Might happen this month, but might not, given the month’s craziness.

How’re you doing this month? If you’re not writing, are you working on any goals that you’d like to get in gear for the summer? GOOD LUCK! Try the Pomodoro Technique, if you’re struggling with focus like I’ve been. Have a great week 🙂

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Hallelujah!

Today, I got my passport. And there was much rejoicing!

It came while we were away so I hit the Royal Mail delivery office at 7 AM this morning and picked it up, along with all my supporting documents. My BRP (biometric residence permit)–the actual visa–is on its way today. All because I read from a fellow applicant online about how to request your own applicant passport back “for ID purposes only”. They returned it but also processed the visa before returning it, so thank goodness that’s over with. Another 2 years until the fun starts again!

Thank you, God! I cannot tell you how relieved I am. And it “only” took 3 months, but I know that if I hadn’t taken that guy’s advice I’d be among the masses who are waiting 6-12 months in limbo, with neither ability to travel nor certainty of their legal status as migrants.

So, a HUGE AMEN!

BELATED #WRITEMOTIVATION GOAL UPDATE:

I’ve done lousy this month. So lousy, in fact, that I can’t even bring myself to re-list my stated goals.

On the flip side, I’m nearly done with one MAJOR goal that I didn’t even know I had until this month began: revising my first story from top to bottom. Again. For real.

I’ve opened a new doc for each chapter in Scrivener, and re-written every single word. Even the sentences I’m merely copying across because I’m still happy with them. Everything’s being retyped so that my fingers and my brain are engaged, and a decision is made with each keystroke how to better this story. I’m nearly done, and will be finishing one of my goals within 1-2 weeks.

I may not have written another 20k on my WIP, or finished all my beta reading yet (which, to be fair, more than doubled since I set those goals!), but I am about a thousand times happier with my first story. So I’m in no way regretting how this month went. Unexpected can be a good thing 🙂

We were here. Tintagel, Cornwall, supposed birthplace of King Arthur.

Sorry for being late this time around but my husband’s birthday coincided with a trip with some friends down to North Devon and we were away for 5.5 days. I didn’t bring my laptop because I didn’t think there’d be wifi. There was wifi. Whoops. I will be doing a last check around some blogs and hope to see them ALL before Monday! Hope you did well if you were participating this month!

 

 

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IWSG First Wednesday of September – Structural Renovation

This is my second monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post, which you can read more about here. It’s all about sharing fears and concerns with other writers, and cheering each other along. As a fairly anxious one myself at the moment, it’s nice to read others’ blogs and see we all go through similar things on our journeys! (Though I wouldn’t wish some of my paranoid worries on others 😉

Right now is also a #Writemotivation goal month (see my last post) and I’ve pledged to get about 28k written on my WIP which is rolling merrily along at the moment. However, as fortune would have it, a lovely friend gave me some much-needed feedback on MS#1, so I jumped on the chance to make changes.

At first it was like looking at a cluttered attic and having no clue where to start to get it organised. I *thought* I was done. I *thought* it was ready. I think it’s come a really long way in the 6-7 years it’s been kicking around, and I’ve re-written the thing from scratch twice. This time it just needs tweaking, shifting, and a few new scenes added to replace some hangers-on that were simply in the mix because of their age, not because they necessarily added anything.

So, Leigh, a massive thank you!

My current thought (I won’t say worry, but…) is simply changing things that have been in this story for so long. Darlings, I suppose. To me, anyhow. It’s like removing supports in a house you’re renovating… which ones are really necessary to keep the structure sound, and which ones are just decoration? 
When I was 7, my family was renovating our 100-year-old house and turning the main bottom floor room, which was a gravel garage, into a family room. There were a few poles, one metal pipe and a support in the middle of the room. I wasn’t old enough to know that they could figure out which could go and which needed to stay, but I remember vaguely having nightmares that the house would collapse if they took the wrong one down (so they might, y’know, need my help figuring it out to make sure).

I definitely don’t need my story to collapse! I’m so ready to be done, and by ready, I mean, THIS MONTH, for real, polished and done. I believe in this story, but I needed the beta feedback, and I’m grateful to others reading it now as well. I think everything I’m targeting is frivolous, and drags the story down. But I guess I’ll find out if it still holds up when I send a final draft to some betas!

Have you had experience taking out long-standing scenes that you took for granted? How did you feel afterwards? I feel a bit like I’m cutting limbs off, but I think they’re superfluous limbs. 🙂

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September Writing Goals

I can’t believe September’s here. It’s the month that always make me a bit sad and nostalgic for every summer past, my favourite time of year. When I was a kid, it was long vacations, trips to Allegany State Park, theme parks, beaches, endless days and late nights of playing, swimming, and going for walks. I’ve never really gotten into winter. I don’t like wearing 18 layers, being cold, and the dangers of winter travel. So each year I struggle to say goodbye to August.

By the year’s end, we’ll hopefully have bought a house and either be moved or preparing to move all our stuff up north. We’ll hopefully both have new jobs lined up, and be ready to move into that next phase of life, as a home-owning married couple who can finally get a cat, paint walls, hang frames, and pick out carpet. I can’t frickin’ wait. After 31 (or is it 32?) moves in my life, mostly from one apartment to another all over Nashville and Sacramento, I am so keen to be in one place, throw out the cardboard boxes, and just breathe knowing we can spread out, join a community, join a gym, and put some roots down.

Before I begin my work experience placement in October, September is the time for getting SHEDLOADS done on both my WIP and my first manuscript. I received amazingly helpful feedback from a few lovely beta readers on both, and I want to send you HUGE GIANT SALTY HUGS AND PINCHES. Just in case you haven’t met Giant Salty yet, which you probably haven’t as he’s only made one blog appearance so far and it was a year ago, here you are:

This is him being shy. But he really wants to hug you. And maybe pinch.

Here are my #Writemotivation goals for September:

1. Reach 70k word mark on WIP first rough draft.
2. Revise 1st MS based on any beta feedback received.
3. Send feedback for beta reading (if not done by end of August).
4. 1st MS x3.
5. Revise query for WIP to include changes.
6. Set aside specific time weekly to read blogs/comment/cheer! 

I should point out that as of 1 September, I’m starting out at 42,076 words in total for my first draft of my WIP, so this means only another 28,000. I know that still sounds like a lot, but it is doable.

I might have to wait until the end of the month for #4. So far I’ve got one set of feedback on it, and I’m in the middle of implementing changes. But if I’m not happy with where I’m at with it in say 3 weeks, I might need to postpone this. 

I’d like to visit blogs on Tuesdays, since most people blog on Mondays in #Writemotivation. Then Twitter breaks throughout the week, in between writing scenes, would be ideal. As it is now, I’m all over the place. Twitter for 10 minutes, blogs for 20, Amazon, job websites, RSS feeds… I need to SERIOUSLY straighten out my focus. One thing at a time. Get it done, take a break, then get back to it.

Good luck with all your goals this month, and I hope you surprise yourself with what you can accomplish! And if the 30-inch plush red crab didn’t make you smile the first time, here’s another shot…

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Making Every Scene Count

Best scene of conflict from Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice filmed here (Temple of Apollo, Stourhead).

This is a (thank God–I know) short entry. I want to work on this today in my writing so I figured, why not share.

Conflict: does each scene have it? I know mine don’t. I’m revising for about the 800th time, but in this case, changing tense. The finish line is in sight, and I’ve been catching a typos & extra words so I’ve been doing more tightening. Some days I feel like every time I read my MS I change something on each page. But I really do need to let go and move on after this. My other WIP is calling my name and feeling left out!

I read a few articles awhile ago about conflict, and how each scene needs to have it. In the books I’ve been reading recently, I see that even talented, published authors manage to struggle with this. Some scenes just contain a funny anecdote along the way, so I wonder how relevant/necessary these are. Entertaining, sure, but necessary? Especially for someone trying to cut the fat off her MS?

Some writers are amazing at this. It sounds simple–make every scene count. A story doesn’t exist without obstacles. But when you’re so close to a manuscript, it’s really hard to see whether a scene is necessary or if it’s just been around so long, you can’t imagine it not there. If it doesn’t add anything to the character’s struggle or journey, or is just a pretty description of one day in his/her journey, it needs to go, say the experts.

So my goal for the rest of the week, finishing this round of revisions, is to focus solely on how each scene serves the story. If it’s not helping my MC reach her goal, or exposing new hurdles, or exposing character traits, it’s out.

Though I’d love to know any great tips on just *how* to objectively look at a scene. When you’ve read it 300 times, how do you distance yourself enough to ask, “Does this have conflict? Does this MATTER, really?” It’s not easy! Maybe there are other, better questions to ask when reading through each scene.

I’ll let you know how I get on by the end of the week 🙂 Happy Leap Year Day!

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