Assassins of Ghadid, Book One, goals, writing

The Final Countdown

I’ve hit the final stretch which means I just want to be done already. If there were writing goblins, I would leave out whatever fruit or knick-knacks they desired to finish this for me.

I can see the end in sight, but I still have to get there. In the meantime, I’ve reached the previous Rocks Fall Everyone Dies point I’d left myself at before, so it’s a bit slower going. These are all new words, so I’ll have to go back and polish them. Just have to remind myself that I will polish them and that it’s okay for the first round to be crap.

Now more than ever I’ve got to keep my head down and focus on the words.

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! violent storms, knife fights, and angst. So much angst.

Chapters: 31 chapters out of 32 edited

Current word count: 80035 out of 90,000

How done am I?: So done.

Assassins of Ghadid, Book One, goals, helpful tips, WIP, writing

Accountability and Stars

The way I’ve held myself accountable over the years has shifted a bit. In the very beginning, there was NaNoWriMo and its daily word count goals coupled with an awesome little graph that rose slowly, encouragingly, over the course of a month. Outside of November, I tried to replicate that beautiful graph by plunking my words into a spreadsheet and that worked for a while.

And then, almost overnight, it stopped working. I couldn’t keep up with the minimal effort it took to use the spreadsheet. And when days (or weeks) of not writing struck, it became too easy to just… not. I tried starting a new spreadsheet, but inevitably I started too many new spreadsheets and progress stalled and I stopped completely.

After that I floundered a bit. Wrote a little here, a little there. But without accountability, it was difficult to hit my self-imposed deadlines.

Then I discovered calendars. They were perfect – something I could mark at the end of the day if I’d met my goal, and each month was a built-in fresh start. Plus, they served the purpose of, well, telling you what day it was, so I always had one around anyway.

I started by just crossing off days that I’d met my goal. Then I tried writing word count goals on the days and crossing them off as I hit them. This was great for days I inevitably fell behind and also days that I got ahead. And no matter how far behind or ahead I got, I’d recalculate my goals at the start of the next month and better manage my expectations.

Of course, with editing, word count isn’t always a reliable indicator of progress. Sometimes you rewrite an entire chapter, sometimes you add in a few paragraphs, and sometimes you just edit heavily. New words written doesn’t tell you much, but chapters edited does.

So for this round of editing, I decided to mark off whenever I finished a chapter. And I decided to celebrate that with a gold star sticker. Because of course I have gold stars. Doesn’t everyone?

I also tried to project out my goals, but even adjusting for May I’m still wildly off. But that’s okay because lookit all those stars! (The other colors are for exercise-related endeavors. Those are a little… less exciting.)

And here’s the complete month of April, for comparison:

Note that I started editing this draft on April 1st, so this shows my whole editing process so far. And no, I honestly don’t remember what happened on the 8th, but it must have been pretty exciting for all those stars.

Not every writer needs daily accountability, but as someone in the slow-but-steady camp of writing, it really has helped me keep up momentum and avoid some panicking. Note – “some,” not all, panicking.

As far as the actual editing goes, I have reached that point where I kind of want my betas to read it, instead of simply dreading them reading it. I’m still in the Not Sure If This Is One Hot Mess Or Not stage (which includes such great hits as My Editor Will Regret Me and Oh God Everyone’s Made a Big Mistake and How Did I Con Anyone Into Thinking I Could Write??) and likely will stay there until I can finally take a step back and look at the proverbial forest.

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! thunderbolts and lightning (very very frightening [me]), family feuds, and questionable intents.

Chapters: 27 chapters out of 32 (or 33) edited

Current word count: 72,075 out of 90,000

Coffee’d netbooks: One ­čśŽ

Average Hours of Sleep a Night 5-6

Assassins of Ghadid, Book One, goals, writing

The Nitty Gritties

The baby is sleeping better and the days are gradually lengthening. I can see an end in sight. The threads of this story are coming together, tight and snug, while at the same time the notepad I have open on my desktop continues to accumulate little changes – tone shift here, reordering a scene there, small continuity notes for the next run through – the last one before this goes to betas.

This is my favorite part. I love the nitty gritties: attending to details, tracking whose hand is where and what phase the moon is in and just when to drop that teeny tiny tidbit of important information so it’ll seem organic. I love chopping out words and smoothing sentences and fixing a character’s voice.

This WIP no longer feels like I went out to the backyard and dug up a pile of dirt and just left it there, an untidy mess, but it doesn’t feel quite right yet, either. I’m too close to it right now and don’t know what to think. Part of me is confident that this is the worst thing I have ever written. But part of me recognizes that every WIP at this point is the worst thing I have ever written. So: I don’t know. And I can’t know.

And that’s okay. Worrying about how awful this really is can come later. Right now, I need to keep my head down and write.

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! ominous weather, grievous wounds, and rooftops on fire.

Chapters: 23 chapters out of 32(?) edited

Current word count: 60,144 out of 90,000

Coffee?: Coffee.

Number of times I’ve listened to that one song while writing this book, according to just the iTunes on my netbook: 128

Random fact of the week: Undyed baby camel yarn is a smooth cream in color. Also, baby camel yarn is a thing that exists.

Assassins of Ghadid, Book One, goals, writing

Write when Baby Writes

Another week, another 10,000 words closer to my goal, another seven days closer to my deadline, another notch up on the panic scale. I think we’re around abouts purple, going on plaid. Thankfully, I do my best work while panicking. It’s also good for the skin! (No, no it’s not.)

Despite a week of horrendous sleep on mine and the baby’s part, I’ve managed to continue making progress. Sometimes, it feels like, through sheer force of will alone. Well, what else is will for but to meet deadlines?

Alas, alas I feel like I’m finally in my element. Am I alone in loving the editing process? It’s so satisfying, like filling a hundred tiny holes so that you finally have a uniform, cohesive surface. If you do it right, it’s as clean and smooth as glass. Nobody can see – or even find – all the cracks you’ve filled in, all the holes repaired. It’s a process of bringing order to chaos and finally, finally seeing a real story with real characters.

Of course, this feeling will only last for another day or two, then we’ll be right back in the depths of despair, but at least the process is predictable, eh?

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! self-inflicted angst, broken promises, and more (always more) corpses.

Chapters: 16 chapters out of 35(?) edited

Current word count: 40,731 out of 100,000

Body count: 3

Excursions outside: What is this “outside” you speak of?

Cups of coffee: Let’s just… not go there.

Assassins of Ghadid, Book One, goals, writing

Sunny Days Ahead

Ever since that snowfall two weeks ago, Michigan has been all sunshine and flowers. Within the space of a weekend, every tree here has burst forth with leaves or blossoms. Spring is quite literally in the air. And by spring I mean pollen.

Here’s to you, allergy-sufferers. May your antihistamines not make you drowsy.

Instead of enjoying the everything’s-not-covered-in-ice weather, I’ve been holed up working on this (semi-)final draft. But I can see the neighbor mowing his lawn from my window so it’s just like being outside. Right?

But the end is in sight and soon – so soon, but not that soon, maybe another month, honest – I will be handing this not-so-shabby draft (can we just start calling all final drafts the not-so-shabby draft from now on?) over to my handful of delightful and I-swear-I’ll-pay-you-in-wine-and-chocolate betas and then picking up a glass of lemonade while sitting and relaxing on the front porch with all the windows open and nothing to do but watch the cars go by and the fireflies wake up and –

Aah, who am I kidding. I’ll be busy working on the next book while my betas read. Who needs rest and relaxation when you can have caffeine and anxiety, amiright??┬╣

 

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! desiccated corpses, moonlit vistas, and awkward flirtations.

Chapters: 12 chapters out of 35(?) edited

Current word count: 30,116 out of 100,000

Desiccated corpses in novel: 2

Desiccated corpses in real life: 0

┬╣No really I’m fine mom, I’m just exaggerating and not drinking 10 cups of coffee a day that would be entirely too unhealthy of course

Assassins of Ghadid, Book One, goals, writing

Hello, hello

Wow, babies man. Thinking you can write a book while juggling a newborn and a job must be the mark of a madman.

Add updating your blog to the mix and, well.

Hi. *waves*

No news, as they say, is good news. And in a way, it is. I’ve been steadily working on this book (one of three, the second of which is already written, go figure) and after six(ish) months I have two rewrites and I’m finally starting on the not-quite-final draft. Thus, the life of a pantser┬╣. But I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Unless that light is a train. Which, you know, might explain the tracks and that no-longer-distant rumbling.

In the spirit of optimism, and a nod towards tradition, I’m going to check in here and keep y’all updated on this last (haha), heroic push towards a (not so) final draft.

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! relatively benign crypts, exciting exorcisms, and ever-present sand. Oh god. So much sand.

Chapters: 2 chapters out of 30 edited

Current word count: 6,222 out of 100,000

Shots of whiskey: 0

How much sand?: So much sand.

┬╣Pantser, noun: One who writes without an outline, i.e. by the seat of one’s pants.

helpful tips

27 Things I Learned While 27

(Pictured: Making Tiramisu, one of my birthday traditions.)

This past weekend I leveled up in life. All the experience I’ve gathered by wading towards the future over the past year, one second at a time, has entitled me to cast away my age of 27 and emerge victorious at 28. Although I’m not yet certain what 28 will unlock versus 27, I’m sure there will be some epic new gear to equip as well as some new attacks.

So much happened while I was 27! So much expected. So much unexpected. My brother got married. I got married (again). We acquired chickens (technically I was 26, but shh). I queried, finished a rewrite, and finished a draft zero. I made cakes and I avoided making cakes. I (finally!) saw the Grand Canyon. I cried. I laughed. I lived.

And I learned a lot. Which should be expected. If there is ever a year that I look back and don’t think “wow, I sure learned,” then I need to start school all over again. Stat.

This is what I learned:

1) Coffee, contradictorily, makes me more tired. Maybe not right away, but I always get an afternoon slump when I’ve started my day with coffee versus tea.

2) The Grand Canyon needs to be experienced in person to fully appreciate just how freaking grand it is.

3) Hiking across the relatively flat land of England is not equivalent to hiking straight down, then straight back up and out of the Grand Canyon. One is noticeably more difficult than the other.

4) Left to my own devices, I will not run regularly on my own.

5) But! I will actually stick to a weightlifting regime on my own.

6) I can trust myself. If everybody and everything says one thing, but I know in my heart that the opposite is true, I can trust myself to be right. This, of course, only applies to my body and personal life and not, say, science.

7) Dr. Google is an ignorant asshole.

8) There is nothing a long hike cannot solve.

9) If I really, really want something, I have to make the time and effort to achieve it.

10) That said, the required time and effort will, more often than not, be four times as much as I originally planned for. But that doesn’t mean I’m not making progress.

11) Best friends are for high school. Real friends, life friends, will fit into my life in their own ways, and I mustn’t force one friend to fit like another.

12) Getting pregnant is hard. TTC is emotionally draining. Finding a group of people in the same/similar circumstances is necessary to maintain perspective and levity.

13) Diet can only do so much, but what it can do is extraordinary. Also puzzling. Looking at you, chocolate.

14) In that vein, I am sensitive to nightshades, chicken eggs, and chocolate. WTF. No, seriously, wtf?

15) My brother and I will likely never be “friends.” We simply look at the world in completely different, irreconcilable ways. And that’s okay! We can still work together if we need to. And I can try to forge a friendship with his wife instead.

16) Biking to work is very, very satisfying and way less stressful than driving.

17) I’m a summer child at heart. As much as I want to love winter and snow and crisp, biting winds, I’m most at ease baking under an oppressive sun. I love the early sunrises and the late sunsets, I love the pillowy clouds and the vibrant, violent storms, I love the buzz of cicadas and the croak of frogs, I love to splash in puddles and smell the approaching rain on the wind, I love the absence of jackets and the warm, comforting air, I love the clear night sky and the peppering of stars, I love the iced drinks and the flavorful berries. Autumn might make my heart sing, but summer is where I live.

18) Chickens do not go “cluck.” Chickens go “errrr er er er.”

19) Don’t believe those pretty photos of ladies in long skirts cycling majestically through the city! Skirts are actually very difficult to bike in, although this may have something to do with the high bar on my bike.

20) My life doesn’t look like my coworkers’, my friends’, my acquaintances, or even my family’s, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. Everybody is in a different place in their journey and the outer shell of their life does not accurately reflect how far they’ve come or how far they have to go. Stop comparing.

21) It is okay to want a child. It is okay to want stability. It is okay to want a fixed home and community. It is okay to want all these “adult” things you shunned only a few years ago. I grew up. I am still growing. I am a different person now, and that person wants different things.

22) Don’t go back and rewatch my favorite television shows and movies of my childhood. They have not withstood the test of time.

23) Except for Sailor Moon. If anything, that show is more nuanced and amazing than I remembered.

24) The things I like might be problematic in some way – sexist, homophobic, racist, or just downright ignorant – but that doesn’t mean they can’t still have some value.

25) My parents have likely lived through a similar rough patch. Share what I’m going through with them. Talk to them. Be open.

26) Always seize the opportunity to go to a concert / attend a live show of a group I love/enjoy. Even if it means staying up well past my bedtime.

27) I still have a lot left to learn.

<3!