NaNoWriMo: The Spirit of the Month I Never Actually Participate in

NaNoWriMo: The Spirit of the Month I Never Actually Participate in
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All stock art from Pixabay.

Greetings,

As November approaches, which is a pretty big month for me, I’ve seen quite a few NaNoWriMo posts, and that got me thinking. I’ve written some 10 manuscripts in my life, and I’ve never once participated in NaNoWriMo.  I’m not going to participate actively this year either. However, that doesn’t in any way mean I don’t appreciate it.

The spirt of November is to get people writing. I have quite a few conversations with people who say they want to be writers, but sure enough, whenever I ask what they’re working on, they never do. NaNoWriMo is a beautiful idea designed to force people who say they want to write to actually write.

When I’m drafting (the portion of the writing process most directly related to NaNoWriMo), I end up writing at least 1,000 words a day, and I average 2,000 on the weekend.  So let’s see, that would equate to about 38,000 in a month. So I can’t proclaim I write 50K or have ever written 50K in one month, but I feel confident I’ve done it. At one point while drafting New Utopia, I’d written 10K in a single day just to see if I could. New Utopia is a ways down the road as that’ll need extensive revisions. The point is, I commit to writing everyday.  Oddly enough, that makes me think of Christmas or one of those heritage month celebrations.

help-2444110__340I honestly love Christmas. It is, in fact, my favorite holiday, but I promise there’s a correlation.  I get upset during heritage month celebrations because they always feel like pretense to me, which is offensive. It feels like, “Today is the day we’re going to acknowledge that people of different races, nations, or sexual orientations are important.” Meanwhile I stand there and wonder why we can’t just be respectful every day of the year? Why can’t we carry on the spirt of Christmas all year?

Do I claim to be perfect? HA!  Not remotely. However, I do make a serious effort to be generous whenever possible. To me, generosity is the spirit of the holiday known as Christmas. I also happen to feel personally that it was the day my savior was born, but that’s a different subject.

I also try my best to actually ignore differences. At work, I’m very unconcerned with what color you are, where you’re from, or who you sleep with. All I care about is your ability to perform your job. I love culture. Maybe not “experiencing” so much, but certainly “understanding” it, so I’m prone to asking blunt and endless questions. If I meet someone who’s been to or from another country, I tend to pepper them with questions. I remember when a dear friend of mine became Vegan. I was amused on one degree, but also curious. You see, culture is what makes each of us special, but I’m a firm believer that when someone points out differences, you’re creating segments. So I make it a point to focus on what we all have in common (the work).

So here comes NaNoWriMo, and a bunch of people will sit down and finally start writing.  (Hopefully they’re writing their submission for The Power of Words.)

dragon-860683_960_720My feeling, personal though it may be, is that NaNoWriMo takes away excuses. It’s beautiful. I’ve never needed a reason to sit down and write, but if this is what gets young writers in front of keyboards, then I love it.

No, I’m not going to try to write 50K, but I am going to try and get another draft of Repressed done (getting Bob’s second edition on shelves takes priority). That brings me to the spirit of NaNoWriMo, and in that spirit, I offer any first-time participants this advice.

Commit to a word count, but start small in the beginning: This is all the more important if you’re cold starting. Someone who has a few books written or has at least grown to writing every day probably don’t need to worry about this step, but beware overextending.  If you say you have to write 1,700 words a day, and that first day you only manage 700, you’ll feel defeated and quit.  You will gain speed and word count as you write every day. Don’t panic or quite if you only get a few hundred words out the first week. The more you write, the more momentum you’ll generate and be able to write. I promise!

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Ironically, this image of my students was taken during a failed attempt to teach capitalization as an active-learning exercise.

Write, but just write: I see my students fall into a trap. They want the thing they’re writing to be perfect on the first try. That’s impossible. I’m releasing the second edition of Bob Drifter and even that won’t be perfect, but it’ll be better. There’s more to it, but the relevant part of this is that when I draft, I don’t revise or edit. I just go. It took me, oh, I’d say two years to learn to let go of the desire to be “perfect” when I draft. The first book I ever finished writing went through 21 additional complete rewrites. Each time, I felt more and more defeated. There were many problems, but my biggest hangup was that I kept thinking, “This draft will be perfect.” I don’t think writers ever finish a book; they just run into deadline or realize they have to let go. I leave it to you to decide how many revisions and edits you should do, but if you never write the darn thing in the first place, you’ll never publish anyway.

Make every month NaNoWriMo: Never stop. I don’t draft nearly as much as I write, but I always push forward. Lately, I’ve done a better job of committing to a project. I finished Sojourn before I worked on Bob’s second edition.  When I sent that to the editor, I drafted Repressed, and even accidentally drafted The Worth of Words. Now that I have Bob back, I’ll get it on shelves (hopefully by the end of November), and then I’ll turn my full attention to Repressed.  But even when I send that out, I’ll shift right over to Worth of Words. My point is, I’m always working. I motivate myself by finishing projects, and having that project I want to get to planned. It sort of tempts me. You see, I’m excited to write Betrayed (the sequel to Caught). That means I can’t wait to finish those other projects so I can get to this one. The more you do, the more you will do. So have fun out there. I may not be with you in function, but I’m absolutely with you in spirit.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

State of the Weech: What’s This Guy Up To?

State of the Weech: What’s This Guy Up To?

I’d mentioned earlier this week that I had intended to do a post going over my schemes for the next little while.  I wanted to do that today because there’s a lot happening.

First, I’m happy to announce the discovery draft of my short(ish) story, Sojourn In Despair, is finished! I wrapped that up Dec. 22. So I’ll wait about a week before I try to revise that into a first draft that Alphas wouldn’t want to throw out of a window.

caught-cover-finalI’ve learned a lot this past year. I wanted Caught out in March of 2016, and I couldn’t make it happen until 2017. This is because it’s not about releasing a book for me, it’s about releasing a GOOD book readers will enjoy.

Revising always takes me an extremely long time, and I wasn’t anticipating a fifth and sixth draft. I want to say this because writers are in love with their work, and they’re either in too much of a hurry to get it out (normally me) or too afraid to put it out there. There’s a balance to this I hope everyone finds. You have to be willing to stand behind it.

When I sent Caught to Marco for an edit, he gave me a lot of information that I think made this book that much better. But it meant taking time to apply that feedback. This is part of the art. This process also taught me a lot about how to look at work. I’ll be using this process again in the future.

I want to help other authors avoid mistakes I make. I want each project I release to be more successful than the last. So I hope this information helps those who are afraid to show their work to many people. Get lots of feedback. Hire. Professional. Editors.

I feel far more confident about Caught than I did about Bob. I also feel more realistically optimistic (not an oxymoron I promise).  But, now that Caught is scheduled to hit the digital bookshelves, I have time to do more stuff.  So here’s a list of my projects in order of priority:

Sojourn in Despair: Elele’s story is drafted, and now I have to do the work that takes a solid early-seferamidea into a well-told story. I’ll take a week off (maybe accidentally write a short story and submit it, Hi J.R.).  But once that week is over, I’ll do another draft of Sojourn. This one will still go by quickly, but each draft will take exponentially longer than the last.

Re-release of The Journals of Bob Drifter: I’ve been quiet about this, but it’s time I start talking about it. I feel this was a great story, but I made a lot of mistakes in how I published it. There are also some glaring typos I want to fix. The story will not change. The main priority of this effort is to bring the cover price down and gain more control over pricing. I want Bob to be more affordable to my readers. I’ll chip away on this in between drafts of Sojourn.

Images of Truth: This book is going to be wonderful. I was about halfway done when Caught revisions became my soul purpose in life.  Elele (from Sojourn) is in this book. She’s one of four primary characters, but this book focuses on Jammin, a young aspiring photojournalist who finds himself a stowaway on a special forces spacecraft in the middle of a secret war effort.  Sojourn is the story of how Elele came to be where we find her in Images. I want to finish this discovery draft quickly. The release of this book is a long way off. But I like having a draft done.

Revisions of 1,200:  1,200 is the story of a homeless veteran who is secretly using his recently-discovered magic to help the rest of his fellow homeless veterans. I want to revise this sooner rather than later, but if Caught does well, this will be the project that falls father in the back burner.

kaitlynThe sequels to Caught: I have a confession to make: I accidentally outlined a short story about Kaityln.  Not outlined exactly, but she’s such a wonderful character. She whispered in my ear (I’m not crazy; I promise) the whole flight to Arizona, and I got off the plane with a great little story just for her. This isn’t part of the trilogy, but her short story will be released in 2018. When in 2018 is something else entirely, but it’ll be out. Books Two and Three of the Oneiros Log will be revised and drafted accordingly. It may be ambitious, but I want all three projects AND Images drafted by the end of 2017.  I don’t know when I’ll publish them. So much depends on releasing a book, and I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. Once Images is drafted, these will be the books I outline and draft. What I will promise is that as soon as these books are ready, I’ll get them to you.

150912-n-tk177-008The plan is to rotate edits between Sojourn, Kaitlyn’s story, Oneiros 2 and 3 until all of them are ready. 1,200 isn’t the biggest priority right now, but it’s a great project to step away to when I’m feeling bogged down. I may also decide other characters from Caught need their own stories. This depends on how loud they get in my imagination and how successful Caught and Kaitlyn’s story are. I do intend to release short fiction (novellas 40K or less) more regularly. This is so you all have stuff from me to read while I work on the larger books. For other young authors out there, this also helps me keep product hitting the shelves and earning income which will fund edits, covers and revisions for the larger products. I feel this was a solid idea on my part, and it keeps me writing.

I’ve been writing since I was 7 or 8. It’s been my dream to be an author since I was 17. Even now, what I’m doing is a dream come true. However, I’m never one to settle. I don’t just want to be a published author. I want to be successful. I want one day for this to be my primary source of income. That said, in a way, you all are so amazingly important to me. You’re here now, in the beginning, when it’s hard. You’re here for me when I’m up at midnight writing a blog or drafting a story. I can’t tell you what you mean to me. I can’t tell you how amazed I am that you’ve shown an interest in my dream. I hope you’re as excited about these projects as I am about getting to work on them.

So, I’ve been particularly blessed this Christmas, because every single time one of you shows interest in my work, that’s a gift you give me. Aside from the love of my friends and family, that’s truly the greatest gift I could ask for. I hope you all have the happiest of holidays and New Years. Thank you!

For today, and the days that follow, thank you for reading,

Matt