The NaNoWriMo Draft

As I continue plugging away at the rough draft of my novel, I’ve had to accept that even with a first round of edits, it’s unreadable. I still wouldn’t show it to my mother.

That’s because I’m working with a NaNoWriMo draft, which isn’t a true first draft. The style in which I wrote the novel was almost all physical – it is all plot. Every night, I forced myself to write without looking back. All my energy was concentrated on forward momentum. I wrote on, even when I couldn’t find my way in transitioning between scenes. This left a lot to fix, which is why I’m not surprised that during my first draft edit, I’ve added over 10k words and am struggling to reach the halfway point in the draft.

But it’s all a learning experience. I’m definitely fine tuning my writing process as a fiction writer, which is much different from my process as a technical writer. My NaNoWriMo draft was underwritten, and all my updates on this first edit are overwritten. I already know that I will edit out half of the content I’ve added. I’m overwriting to get all of the ideas and thoughts out. My second edit will be more about tightening the story up.

So, what have I learned from this experience?

First, I don’t think I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo again. It was a great experience, and I loved the challenge, but the approach doesn’t work for me.

Second, I’ve developed better discipline. Despite getting off track a few times, I have written more in the last 10 months than I’d written in the last few years. I have also written more consistently on a daily basis and have found my inner commitment that makes me want to continue this path. My issue is making and finding time to write. This will always be a struggle, and I will just have to deal with it. I’ve missed a day here and there over the last few weeks, but for the most part, I’ve written/edited at least a page per day.

Last, I can’t force myself to finish by a certain time. I need to relax. I need breaks. I need to look at it more like a job, working on the novel during the week but giving myself breathing space on the weekends to write for other mediums. Tonight, it’s a blog post. Tomorrow, it’s the outline for my next novel.

As long as I’m writing, I’m doing what I love. With discipline and the practice I got with my NaNoWriMo draft, I think I’ll eventually have something I can show my mother.

A good excuse for not writing

So, it’s been a while, and it may seem like I might have given up, but here’s the scoop. I was making steady progress with my rough draft when, well, things happened. But before I get to that…

My current status:

Currently editing page: 71

Current novel length: 200 pages and 61,577 words

At this rate, I’ll never finish, especially since I haven’t edited/written in almost two months and since I’m adding more pages than I’m really editing (already 25 pages more than I started with?). Crazy. It’ll still be a first draft when I’m done.

So what happened to all that drive?

Evening sickness, which is apparently more common than morning sickness.┬áThat’s right, we’re expecting baby #2. She/he comes in late November!

The good news is the evening sickness has finally subsided for the most part, but it was rough going for a couple of months. The worst was getting sick in a Starbucks bathroom one afternoon. One moment I felt fine, the next I wasn’t.

In other news, I’ve gotten a bit of reading in. Although I haven’t found any chick lit I liked nearly as much as Bridget Jones’ Diary, I’ve found a few decent reads that made me chuckle. I guess the best and brightest of chick lit didn’t start and end with Helen Fielding; it just seems that way sometimes. I’m at 24 books for the year and there were quite a few really good ones from the 2012 VNSA book spree (and only two Georgette Heyer in the mix!). I’d be happy if I got through another 12 books this year. I guess that’s my new and more realistic goal.

Day 3: Just keep plugging away

I’ve heard different variations of this story, and it continues to resonate with me. Basically, a writer wasn’t getting anywhere with his/her novel and resolved to work on it every day, even if only for one minute. It didn’t matter what the writer updated – the margins, renaming the novel, adding page numbers, whatever, as long as the writer worked on it every day – eventually he/she would finish the novel.

So, as tired as I was tonight and as much as I wanted to go to bed, I told myself I would edit at least one page. I got through three. Updating my blog is a bonus. If I write one update a day, by the end of the month, I will have almost doubled the number of blog posts I’ve written on this blog. But maybe this is cheating :) Whatever!

Currently editing page: 28
Number of pages edited today: 3

Current novel length: 177 pages

Goal for tomorrow: edit 10 pages

Book Pitch Consultation – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A month or so ago, I bought The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by The Book Doctors, who were promoting their book with an offer of a free 20-minute consultation with purchase of the book.

I’m almost 100 pages in, and the book has been awesome. If you’re a writer who’s serious about getting published, this book will give you a step up in your journey. I wish I’d found it years ago.

My consultation was a little less than 20 minutes. I spoke with Doc David and began with an attempt at humor by telling him I had a rough draft that I’ve been editing, but “it’s in such a rough condition, I wouldn’t show it to my mother”. Laughter. That was a good start.

Then I read him my 200-word pitch.

Doc David said he really liked the pitch. His main feedback was he wanted to know what my character looked like. He wanted to be able to picture her and wanted me to give the reader more of a reason to spend 20 hours reading my novel. We talked about that for a few minutes. I was intentionally keeping my main character nondescript because I thought it would make more people be able to relate to her and picture themselves in her position, but he had a different opinion. I liked the feedback and got a vivid feel for what my character looked like. (Incidentally, she’s a tall, curly haired red head who always stood out because of her looks and hated it. Because of that, she’s worked her entire life to avoid attention.)

I also had a couple of questions to ask. To preface them, there’s a section in The Essential Guide about social networking. The book really stresses the importance of this.

Because I have a decent number of friends on facebook and a somewhat broad network from politics (I still admin DemocraticDiva.com and write for it once in a while, and I am still on the Emerge Arizona board), I wanted Doc David’s advice on using a pen name in relation to facebook and building a network.

His first question was, “Why do you want to use a pen name?”

I don’t really want to, but I don’t think my next novel is going to be chick lit. With that in mind, I think I have to take into account the practicality of using a pen name for chick lit and my real name for the novel I want to be remembered for. Yes, I dream big.

Doc David’s response was to get busy on creating a facebook account using the pen name and to start friending people I think would be interested in reading the chick lit novel. Good advice, and he even gave me examples I hadn’t thought of before.

Next question, does social networking clout give you leverage in negotiating with a publisher?

I expected him to say yes, but I didn’t expect him to tell me that publishers now ask for this information and want statistics, like how quickly is your network growing, how many people will buy the book? Luckily, I use Google Analytics for my blog and can keep track of my growth on facebook and Twitter. Knowing this in advance definitely gives a writer something to work on.

Last, Doc David reiterated he really liked my pitch and said to rework it with some physical details about the main character. After I did that, he said I could email the pitch to him for feedback and he’d look at my manuscript.

I was floored and dismayed. My novel has a very long way to go. I reminded him that it was in such a rough state, blah, blah, blah. He said it was an open-ended offer.

A few things on this… If a professional says they’ll look at your book, you don’t leave them waiting. I now have a deadline for editing this novel, and I’m already a day past.

Despite this, my novel is in no condition for human eyes. I can barely read it without flinching. So, I am giving myself a month to edit this before I have a weekend edit-a-thon, of which, you (my friends and family) will be asked to spend a weekend with me reading through this novel. I hope some of you will help.

The other thought? Oh my god, someone not related to me liked my pitch and has offered to give me additional feedback.

I will give periodic updates on my progress (and will be spending a little less time blogging).

This is where I am tonight.

Number of pages edited: 16 pages

Current novel length: 177 pages

What do you think? Do you want to give me feedback on my book pitch? Want to help me decide on the title?