Writing Update – July 25

Writing Update

This is why none of my stories have paragraph indents, capital letters, or the number 1
This is why none of my stories have paragraph indents, capital letters, or the number 1

I can’t believe this is the last weekend of July. Where did this summer go? I know everyone says that, but summer in Chicago didn’t start until mid-month, when temperatures finally hit above 75 degrees.

I have been writing like a fiend. I am at 55,000 words on my WIP. Whenever I outline my books, I think my plot is rock solid…until I start writing. It’s the most frustrating part of this process. My plot usually falls apart by the second half. But that’s what revision is for. I always tell myself nobody gets it right on the first try. No first draft is publishable. I am merely generating the clay which will then get molded into a novel.

I hit 50k on Wednesday, exactly one month from when I started writing this book. My own private NaNoWriMo. I’ve done NaNo thrice and failed every single time. But now I know that I can do it! (And in less than 30 days since I don’t write on weekends, usually.)

Paperback News!

I have decided to publish Out in the Open as a paperback. I’ve had requests from readers about physical copies, and it was surprisingly easy to do on Createspace. Also, looking at my bookcase, it would be nice to have a physical edition of my book. Something to hold in my hands. I can flip through the pages of my very own book and know that I wrote this. 

The paperback should populate on Amazon in the next few days. I don’t have any plans to publish Behind Closed Doors as a paperback for the time being, since it’s not a full-length novel.

I’m off to dip my toes in Lake Michigan this weekend. How are you enjoying your summer?

The Henry and Nolan story that wasn’t

In Behind Closed Doors, there’s a story about Henry having to spend a daylong road trip with the sullen, brooding Nolan. I loved the way this story turned out. Too bad it was supposed to be a full-length novel.

In the M/M genre, authors release books in quick succession. The best authors release a book every few months. I wanted to keep up with that pace, and I thought I could. In the original backmatter of Out in the Open, I said the next book was coming in spring 2015.

I planned to write a novel from Henry’s point-of-view. Henry was introduced briefly in Out in the Open. He wasn’t planted to be the protagonist of a future book. He just showed up the story. I turned to him when thinking about expanding the Browerton universe, but the problem was that I had already given him traits and a backstory. In Out in the Open, he tells Ethan that he’s been dating a guy in the closet for a few months, and hasn’t even told his friends.

That was canon. And I had to try to build off that. How do you write a story about a guy with a secret boyfriend that’s still fresh and different from your first book? At the same time, I had recently watched this phenomenal film called Weekend. It followed 2 guys over the course of a, um, weekend. They have sex, talk, have sex, talk, connect. It was like watching a play. I wanted to do something like that with Henry’s story.

I came up with a story about Henry going home for Thanksgiving break and trying to deal with his boyfriend and family. He rides back with Nolan, and the two characters intersect over the weekend. (Weekend, go figure)

The story sounded good in my head, but when I tried to write it, it was a slog. I struggled to write a complete novel. There wasn’t enough plot. The worst part was that it was dark. Henry’s relationship with his boyfriend was effed up. Nolan’s sullenness stemmed from an effed relationship with a high school friend. There was a suicide, sexual assault, cheating, depression, anger, breakdowns, jails. Happy Holidays?

Plus, Nolan and Henry weren’t intersecting enough. So I was writing 2 separate stories, in effect, and both were downers.

Now, I have no issue with dramatic stories. But things weren’t clicking on this one. And I realized that my books have humor, heart and hot guys. I was missing humor. This was not the type of story I was meant to write. Meanwhile, I had this self-imposed spring 2015 deadline breathing down my neck, which was effecting my writing and making me second-guess everything.

That’s when I decided to chuck the novel. This was not the Henry story I wanted to write. I turned my attention to short stories as a way to get my writing groove back. I had some ideas for stories with Browerton characters, and I just went for it, not worrying about spring 2015.

One of the stories revolved around Henry and his closeted boyfriend. What if I could write a story exploring that relationship? I had a great idea for a story that only took place in Henry’s boyfriend’s bedroom. Like a play. It was hard to reconcile how Henry could be in this relationship for so long. And why did he tell Ethan but not his friends? And yet again, Henry’s story went dark.

It was claustrophobic and seriously effed up. There are plenty of great stories with that criteria, but with Henry’s story, there was always something missing. The final piece of a puzzle. Just like with the full-length novel I trashed. It didn’t have the spark of the other stories. Is this the story I wanted to saddle Henry with? He wasn’t a bad guy. He didn’t deserve this. I felt like he wouldn’t be able to interact with other Browerton characters after going through what happened in this short story.

So I trashed it.

I was frustrated. Kicking myself, literally and figuratively. Why couldn’t I write this kid’s story? There was plenty of really interesting elements I had come up with, but the finished product wasn’t coming together. I gave it serious thought. What did I want to say? What did I like about Henry’s story? Well, I loved the road trip aspect. I love the idea of two strangers getting to know each other over one day. Maybe I could write Henry and Nolan’s story on the roadtrip and leave out what happens after they arrive. The journey could be the destination in this case.

Two and a half days later, I had written their story, Road Trip Cone of Silence. It poured out of me. I was smiling to myself as I typed. This was it. I knew it. I felt it.

I had finally cracked Henry’s story. It took me 70,000 words to get there, but it was worth it. You learn more about yourself from what you get wrong than what you get right. I learned what I wanted in my stories.

This was a trying experience, but ultimately invaluable. It’s not the gold standard of how a writer should act, frankly. Maybe I should’ve stuck it out with the novel or the first short story. I doubt I’m the first writer this has happened, too. In the future, I may try to push through. With humor, though. I can’t write without humor. Overall, I’m proud of myself for seeing it through Henry’s story.

So if you’re curious why there was such a long wait between books, and an even longer wait between novels, here you go. Trust that I have been writing. I’m not perfect. I’m just a working writer.

Writing Update – July 12

Well, I see it’s been a whole month since my last weekly writing update. #bloggingfail

I keep saying I’m going to be a steady blogger, posting weekly. I’ve said this multiple times to myself. Usually after saying how I’m going to stop eating chocolate and lose weight. I’m not good with the self pep talks.

Maybe I’m not meant to blog. I love reading blogs, and there are people who LOVE to blog. I salute them with both hands. This blog isn’t going away anytime soon, but it just won’t be as frequently updated, I’m afraid. For one, I don’t have stuff to blog about on a regular basis. I’m writing a blog right now about how I don’t blog enough.

But more importantly, the time I have available for writing goes to writing books. That’s number one priority for me. And on that front, I’ve been a busy caterpillar. (I don’t like bees.)

Writing Update

This is why none of my stories have paragraph indents, capital letters, or the number 1
This is why none of my stories have paragraph indents, capital letters, or the number 1

Last week was the most productive writing week of my life. No joke. I wrote 13,700 words this past week! I had no idea I was capable of that. Once I wrote 10,000 words in a weekend (years ago), and that was painful. That I wrote the 13k words only during Monday-Friday, on top of my full-time job, is even more astounding. How the heck did I accomplish this?

I didn’t do it alone. I’ve been having hourlong writing sprints with my writer friend across the country. We set up times to write — during lunch breaks, at night. We email each other right before the start with a word goal. Technically, it’s a “contest” to see who can write more words. But really, it’s motivation. Knowing someone is writing with me and knowing it’s only lasting an hour makes me push harder.

An hour isn’t much time but also plenty of write. You’d be shocked with how much you can accomplish an hour at a time.

The downside of writing this many words in a workweek is that pretty much every other element of my life went on pause. Dishes didn’t get washed. I didn’t do laundry. I didn’t hang out with friends. But on the plus side, I got all my writing done by Friday, so my weekend was relaxing and free, and life got back on track.

I’m at 30,000 words for my latest WIP. Already, I can tell this is going to be the longest book I ever write. At least as a rough draft. I’ll pare down to only the good stuff in revisions. I view a rough draft as gathering the clay. In future drafts is where I mold the clay into just exactly what I want. But that will come later. Right now, it’s all about getting words on the page.

If you’ve been thinking of writing a novel but haven’t made the jump yet, I suggest finding a writing buddy or writing group. They’ll provide motivation, accountability, and support – all necessary elements in writing.

How’s your writing coming? What are your goals for the week?