June Recap: You win some, you lose some…

Ah, here we are again. Another monthly recap. June wasn’t too bad. There were some awesome highs and discouraging lows.

Writing: In total, I wrote 13,779 words in June. I’m disappointed in that number, but I’m trying to stay positive. As you may already know, I finished my first draft of The Travelers early in the month. I read it on my Kindle and decided to ignore it for awhile. I have every intention of going back and editing it… eventually. Right now, the task seems daunting, and so I’m just acting like it will fix itself.

After I finished The Travelers, I just stopped writing for a little while. Part of it was because I was reading my own projects (as well as many novels; see below). I was disappointed in myself for not pushing through and writing something every day.

On the positive side, the remainder of those words went to two separate projects. One of which is a weird science fiction story that I imagine will be only a short story or novella that is heavily influenced by Philip K. Dick. The other is my Camp NaNoWriMo project, which I started a couple days earlier. It’s a horror novel about the occult, sort of, but it’s really about the choices we make and the things we’ll do for the people we love.

Reading: I READ SO MANY BOOKS IN JUNE. Well, 10, to be exact. That’s pretty good for one month. I’m up to Book #50 on my GoodReads challenge of reading 100 books in the year. At this pace, I should be able to meet my goal. I just started The Maze Runner and Ready Player One, both of which I’m enjoying.

Oh, but I did make one crucial decision. After The Maze Runner, no more YA books for awhile. I just can’t do it. I can’t get into them, and sometimes, they frustrate me, even if they are good books.

Still haven’t finished Anna Karenina.

Other: I saw Jurassic World and Terminator: Genisys at the theater. I loved Jurassic World, despite the somewhat silly plot and the terrible character development. I liked (but did not love) Terminator: Genisys, despite the time travel wonkiness and Emilia Clarke’s terrible version of Sarah Connor (sorry, not sorry). Still haven’t finished Daredevil on Netflix.

Bring on July!

The Big 3-0: Reflections

On Thursday, I celebrated a milestone: my 30th birthday. I try not to be one of those people who freaks out at birthdays, and the truth is, I feel no different at 30 than I did at 29. But I think birthdays, like some holidays, provide a good opportunity to reflect on one’s life and goals, especially when entering a whole new decade.

My 30s are intimidating to me because I associate them with “real” adulthood. My earliest memories of my mother are when she was in her early 30s, and of course, I always thought she was a real grown-up, someone who had everything together. This next decade is going to include a lot of choices – where do we want to live long term, do we want to buy a house, are we going to have kids, and if so when, etc., etc. This is also going to be an important time in my legal career. I’ve been working for almost five years now, so I finally feel like I know what I’m doing at work. The next decade will (I hope) provide more opportunities to advance in that career, and, most importantly, I should qualify for public service loan forgiveness within the next six to seven years (seriously, it’s going to be the happiest day of my life).

When I look forward to the next decade of my writing career, I don’t know what will happen. I have one project finished, pending editing, and I have three other projects that are thisclose to being done. Okay, realistically, each one needs another solid month of work, but I could finish at least one or two of those by the end of the year. Taking that into consideration, what’s a realistic goal for the next ten years? Publish one book a year? That seems a little aggressive to me, though not impossible. Maybe one every year and a half? That would end up being between 6-7 books over the next decade. I think that’s possible. Ideas aren’t the problem. I have 11 stories “in progress” – meaning I’ve either written something on the story or I’ve fleshed out the idea. So, the problem is actually sitting down and finishing all of these projects.

I’m also trying to remind myself that I’ve accomplished a lot so far. Let’s be honest – during ages 1 through 18, I didn’t do much, but in those subsequent 12 years, I finished college and law school, had two great legal jobs, published a book, and traveled a decent amount. That’s not bad before 30.

Do you use birthdays or holidays to reflect upon your goals? Anyone else hit 30 and not freak out (or did you freak out)? 

May Recap: Plugging Along

In retrospect, May was neither a great month nor a terrible month, in terms of productivity. It was okay. “Okay” is not the measuring stick that I would like, but it’s better than February or March.

I wrote 23,873 words during the month of May, which averages to about 770 per day. 19,956 of those words were on Repetitions. The remaining 4,000-ish were split among two new projects. I had no intention of starting new things at this point in Repetitions, but I found that sometimes I just could not bring myself to write on that project. Total project size is somewhere around 85,000 words, and it should be quite close to completion.

On the reading side, I finished 9 books, which was more than my goal. I’m currently in the middle of 4 books (including Anna Karenina – readers, this might take me the whole year. It’s impossible). I did finish 11/22/63, which was excellent. I highly recommend it.

Sadly, I did not meet my goal of finishing Daredevil on Netflix. I got sucked into The Americans on FX which is phenomenal.

June goals: Write at least 30,000 words OR finish Repetitions, whichever comes first, read at least 9 books, and finish Daredevil.

Writing Struggles: Why am I doing this?

I hit a wall last night. I made it to 70,000 words on this project, and I just stopped for a moment, staring at my computer.

“Is this any good?”

I think the answer with most rough drafts is, no, but it could be. I try to repeat that to myself often. Rough drafts aren’t about finesse and perfection; they’re about throwing ideas on paper and seeing what sticks. There’s time to take scenes or sentences out in the editing phase.

Rationally, I know all of that. But as I look at my draft now, all I see are my flaws – I’m using the same descriptive words too much, I’m not fleshing out my villain enough, I’m not giving my minor characters enough to do, and my biggest fear, there’s just too much going on.

“Ugh,” I groaned to my husband. “This is just stretching out so much. I’m barely at the halfway point. I can’t imagine writing another 70,000 words.”

“What does it matter?” he asked, shrugging. “It’s not like you have a firm deadline.”

He’s right – there’s no one tracking me to make sure I get this done. I don’t have an agent or a publishing company breathing down my back, demanding that the story is done by a certain date. But I had set a date for myself of June 30th. It’s arbitrary, but that would have given me three full months to work on it, along with the sporadic times I worked on it last year when I started it. As Stephen King taught us, a first draft should be done in three months.

As I thought about my lack of a deadline, my mind leaped to another question: why are you even doing this? I don’t have to. This isn’t my real job. I’m not going to make money off of it. And, as we established above, it’s probably terrible.

So, what answer did I come up with? As you may remember from previous posts, I really struggle with the idea of calling myself a “writer.” I think a lot of self-published authors do. Maybe I’ll never consider myself an “author.” But I am a writer – I can’t imagine not writing (pardon the double negative). I have so many stories in my head, so many characters, so many scenes. I kept all of my ideas tucked away in my mind for years, until I write The Historian. Now that I’ve experienced the catharsis in the process of creating a story, I don’t know how I could ever go back.

Maybe it’s crap. Maybe I won’t sell a single copy. Maybe one of my beta readers will review it and say, “Not your best work.” But I have to keep writing.  I’m not doing because other people are telling me that I should or I have to – I’m doing this for myself.

Writers: Do you struggle with these thoughts? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep working in the face of self-doubt?

Camp NaNoWriMo: Day 12

We’re almost halfway done with Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s hard to believe that the midpoint of April is this week. I’m happy to say that this month has been extremely productive. Since my last post, one week ago, I’ve written 13,755 words. And you know what? Some of them aren’t too bad!

I’m finding that I’m taking much longer than anticipated in the first half of the story. I estimated that this project would be about 75,000 words, but I think it’s going to end up much longer than that. I have almost 37,000 words on the project right now, and I think it’s about a quarter done. So, although I hope to hit the 50,000 word mark in April, I will certainly not finish the project.

This is the start of the third week of Camp NaNoWriMo, and I know from experience that this is when motivation can wane. After the initial burst of energy from starting a new project, the words can take a little longer to get on the paper. My goal for getting over this is a commitment to write every day, even if it’s only 500 words. In past NaNoWriMos, I’ve taken a few days off, but I’m going to avoid that this month. Missing one day leads to missing two days, then three days, etc.

Back to writing!

2015 Reading List

This year, I’m challenging myself to read 100 books through the  Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge.  I usually read 2 or 3 books at a time, because I get too impatient to wait until I’ve finished one to start the next one.  There are just too many good books waiting! I know that books will crop up that I haven’t thought of, but here is a list of books on my must read list for 2015:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (*If I have to leave out one, it’ll be this one)
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Foundation by Isaac Asimov
Imperial Earth by Arthur C. Clarke
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Revenge of Geography by Robert D. Kaplan
11/22/63 by Stephen King
The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
Blood of Angels by Michael Marshall
Collapse by Jared Diamond
American Gods by Neil Gaimon
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
Weaveworld by Clive Barker
Books of Blood #3 and #4 by Clive Barker
The Intruders by Michael Marshall
The Peripheral by William Gibson
The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin (*Wishful thinking. I’m unrealistically optimistic for a 2015 release).

That’s 25 titles for the new year. That leaves me 75 to go. I tried to mix classics and contemporary novels, and I even put on a few non-fiction books on there.

Have I left anything out? Any recommendations for other must read books for the new year?