So, I’ve had very little time over the last few months to blog. I have, however, been working on the second and third drafts (simultaneously) of the first book in the series I’m working on. I’ve also attending an awesome conference, which I plan to blog about soon. And I have some info on a conference in Columbia MO on October 18th. Stay tuned…I will be back.
Participating in Camp NaNoWriMo is hard. I wrote 50,000 words in the month of July while still keeping up with the house (mostly, lol), homeschooling the kids, participating in church stuff, etc. I basically worked on the weekends. It was exhausting, but I did it, and I am glad that I’ve got the first draft of the third book in the series I’m writing done.
But still, in the month of July, I felt like I put a lot of things on pause. Blogging being one of them because I just could not muster the energy to write any more words. So, I hope to get back on the bandwagon for blogging this month.
As for my writing, I’m returning to the first book in my series, which I think I’m going to call Visions. I am rewriting/editing, and so far, I think it’s going pretty well. I’ve added 16 pages to the first 25 pages, which for me is a good thing. Some writers over-write. They get done with their first draft and they’re at like 180,000 words. Their editing process looks a lot like cutting half their words. My first drafts tend to be short, between 50-70,000 words. And then I add in a lot of the world-building and focus on character development and whatnot.
Anyway, like I said, I’ll hopefully be able to get back into the habit of blogging regularly this month. I enjoy doing it. I always feel like to have material I have to learn new things and research new things, which is fun for me. I’m looking forward to it!
Exactly two weeks in, and I’m at right around 33,000 words. That’s 144 pages, double spaced, for those of you who might be wondering. Not bad, considering I’ve only been able to get significant amounts done on the weekends. I couldn’t have done it without my husband. He’s given me the time. At least two nights each week and all day on each Saturday and half of the first Sunday. He watched the kids and encouraged me to write and celebrated with me when I came home with a large word count. He’s my biggest support!
Anyway, I got to a point this weekend, at around 24,000 words, where I just couldn’t write any more. It was like my brain turned to sludge. I’m feeling a little bit better, but I have to know: does anyone have any tips for when you’ve written and written and written and you just don’t know if you can put one more word on paper? All I could do was take a break. I wrote nothing on Sunday and for most of today. Tonight I was able to get in a couple thousand words. Any other tips for if I hit that wall again?
I have been intrigued by flash fiction ever since I learned of it. It’s a snap shot, a moment in the life of some character. It leaves so much up to the reader’s imagination, but if done right, still gives some sense of satisfaction, of being told a story. I have attempted in the past to create flash fiction pieces of various lengths. Depending on the magazine or the contest or the challenge, the length of flash fiction changes, although I do think that as a category, it has to at least be under 1,000 words. This piece, Lil’ Lady, was written from a challenge to stay under 500 words. It is also my only attempt at an “Old West” themed piece. Here it is! I hope you all enjoy it!
When her Pop didn’t come home that night, May knew she would need to saddle up and head out to find him, though if his habits proved true, she knew she wouldn’t need to look far.
“Third time this week,” she grumbled as she mounted her old mare, a chestnut colored Morgan no one else wanted. She patted the Colt Navy revolver. It hung snug in it’s holster off of her hip from a slightly-too-loose leather belt. Her Pop had given the gun to her when she was nine years old, two years after he taught her to shoot it.
May nudged the mare, who slowly meandered her way toward town. Dry Creek was about a mile down the small dirt road, and when May reached the short row of buildings, she headed for the one in the middle – Hank’s Saloon. She dismounted and began to walk toward the swinging doors but jumped back as a man flew past her, head first, landing roughly in the dirt. Two men followed after him.
“Yer gonna give us everythin’ ya got and then some, ya hear?” The taller of the two kicked their victim and asked again, “Ya hear?”
Great. That’s my Pop.
May walked up behind the men, both of which easily overshadowed her fifteen-year-old frame. She tapped the taller one as he took a step back to let his friend get in a good kick.
“Hey, fellas, don’t mean to interrupt, but that drunken fool is my Pop. What’s goin’ on here?”
The shorter, bearded one addressed her with clear annoyance, telling her they won five dollars from her father, only to find out he had no more than a half-dollar on his person.
“Right, well, I don’t have that kind of money on me, but if you let my Pop go, I promise to get it to ya,” she took the Colt Navy out of it’s holster and played with it while speaking, letting them see she could handle it well.
They laughed at her. “Ya think yer gonna scare us lil’ lady? We ain’t scared o’ no woman.” They turned back to her Pop, now curled up into a whimpering mess, who promptly received a kick to the back of his head.
May shrugged and sighed, “Have it your way,” and she shot them both. As she helped her Pop to his feet, the bearded man, still barely conscious, stared down at the gaping wound in his gut and then back up at May, mumbling something, brow furrowed. She looked at him with a smirk and answered the question she saw in his eyes, “My Momma passed when I was three, and Pop didn’t know nothin’ about raisin’ girls.”
© Brianna Boes 2014
So, this weekend, I feel like I won. I’m participating in Camp NaNo, where I’m trying to write an entire first draft of a novel in the month of July. I started the weekend with about a thousand words down, just from writing a couple hundred here and there since July 1st. After an all day work day on Saturday, about five hours of work Sunday night, and another probably eight hours of work yesterday, I ended the long weekend at just over twenty thousand words. That just makes me feel happy.
The next few chapters may not go so smoothly; I’ve got some problem solving to do. This is the part of the novel I’m not so sure about, the part that could change or needs something extra I just don’t know about yet. I know what needs to happen. But how it happens…well, I might just write the idea I have and rewrite it later. Or I’ve been considering skipping this section all together and moving on to about two chapters later where I know for sure how things are going to go down.
For you seasoned writers, do you ever skip ahead in your book? How do you deal with sections as you write that first draft that don’t seem quite right?
This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our eighth anniversary. We had a lot of fun, and we enjoyed being together without having the kiddos for a few days thanks to my parents. It really was one of the best weekends we’ve had in a very long time.
We married in 2006. Two kids, lots of life experience, and eight years later, we are still happy and in love. We have little arguments here and there, and we are still learning about each other, but we are so happy. I can’t imagine life with anyone else.
A few things about marriage I’ve learned so far:
1. Love really isn’t about how you feel. Sometimes you feel less like giving your SO (i.e. significant other) a kiss and more like punching them in the face. Love is the decision to dedicate yourself to one person, to sacrifice for them, to support them, and to learn what they need from you to feel loved. When you find someone you can decide to love, and they decide to love you, it’s a beautiful thing.
2. You never really “know” your SO. People are not stagnant creatures. We change. We grow. We are constantly becoming different people. You may know who you marry, but if you don’t keep learning and pay attention to who they are becoming, you’ll find one day that you don’t know them at all. I am so grateful that my husband and I have never stopped learning who we are, both as individuals and as a couple.
3. Compromise in the every day little things is key. It took me a long time to understand that it would be better for everyone, myself included, if I just let go of my way of doing things once in a while. For instance, I’m a planner. I wanted my husband to be a planner. I wanted him to be precise with our schedule. That didn’t work for him and it caused some arguments. Eventually, it came to the point where I gave a little, became more relaxed, and understood that not every occassion or outing needs to be planned. In the process, I discovered I actually enjoy a little spontenaity. On the flip side, my husband learned where planning is important in our family. He now knows that it’s a good idea to let me in on it when he schedules a dinner or an outing with the guys. He is considerate of my time and also of the time we have as a family. We both had to compromise, and we are both better for it.
4. Never stay angry. We got this very good advice before we were married: never allow the day to end on a bad note. Even if the argument isn’t settled, agree to discuss it when everyone has had more time to think about it. Hug each other. Snuggle on the couch for a few minutes. Acknowledge that you still love each other. It’s hard to stay mad when you are snuggling up to your SO watching funny videos on YouTube.
These are just a few of the practical things I’ve learned to help life go a little more smoothly in marriage. Have you learned any practical tips over the years with your SO?
A friend of mine, Liz Schulte, said something to me a while back that has got me thinking. She said, “To be a writer, you have to be an entrepreneur, too.” Considering that this chick is a successful author and a book-writing-machine and a pretty awesome lady anyway, when she gives me advice, I generally listen.
The word “entrepreneur” at first made me cringe a little. I find that’s not uncommon with writers. Marketing yourself and your work sounds like too much drudgery. We want to be writing, not marketing. We want to be creating, not selling. However, Liz is right. There is an idea among much of the writing community that publishing equals an automatic “in” with readers. Like once you’ve got that finished piece, that wonderful book you’ve spent so much time on and poured so much of yourself into, it will magically be brought to the attention of a vast majority of people. In reality, no matter what publishing rout a writer takes, if the writer doesn’t market, if the writer doesn’t build some kind of platform, the book will not usually sell well.
Now, let me clarify. If you are a writer who writes only for self-satisfaction or only for the art of language, good for you. If you are satisfied with that, by all means, write your heart out and save that stuff for generations of your own family to read and enjoy. That is perfectly okay. I’m talking about writers who write, maybe for the same things, but also for more. I do write for self-satisfaction and for the creative outlet. I love the process of writing a book. But I write for other reasons too. I’m a writer because I love the relationships I build in the writing community. Other writers simply understand something about me that *ahem* normal people don’t (we writers are weird; we have to stick together). I write to be read. I want people to read what I write and hopefully come away with something they didn’t have before, maybe ask questions they didn’t ask before. I want people to read what I write. And yes, I write, because eventually, I hope to make some money doing the thing that I love. And so, for writers like me, I think it’s true: we have to be entrepreneurs.
How do we do that? How do we take entrepreneurial steps to set up a good foundation for our writing careers? The closer I come to beginning the process of publishing, the more that question seems to hover over me. There is a lot more to this than I know. A lot more that I have to learn. But here are a few suggestions that I’ve been given by various writers, applicable especially to writers who are where I am–on the road to publishing, but not there yet.
1. Take tips from small business owners and entrepreneur magazines.
2. Learn from writers who are already there, who are selling books and making money. How did they build a platform? How do they connect to readers? What kind of marketing tools do they suggest for newly published/almost published writers?
3. Have an online presence. Do you enjoy blogging? Could you have an author’s page on Facebook? What about an author’s website? Twitter? LinkedIn? There are so many options in social media that can serve to help build a platform for when your books are published. And who knows? Maybe you’ll start a blog for that purpose and find you actually really enjoy it!
4. Make up a business card. Business cards are awesome for when you are at writer’s groups or conferences. If you don’t have one at a conference, you’ll be writing your information on napkins and the backs of other people’s business cards all day long. Or you just won’t make any lasting connections and will have missed a major opportunity. Plus, it just feels cool to whip out a business card and be like, “Yeah, I’ve got one of these. I’m legit.” 🙂
5. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur, or at least an entrepreneur in training. It’s kind of the same thing as: you’ll never be a writer if you don’t think of yourself as one. You won’t see opportunities or have the confidence to make any steps forward if you are afraid of that word. And you’ll certainly never make a living as a writer.
Now, I’m in the beginning stages of all this. Does anyone have any more suggestions for how to be an entrepreneur in the beginning before you’ve published?