Monthly Archives: May 2015

Deadline met and new maxim obtained!

It is done. Last night I turned in the first 75 pages of a brand new novel for the Djerassi workshop I was accepted into this past winter. They are some of the best 75 opening pages I’ve ever written, and I did it by ignoring all the “rules” of how to write a first draft.

Confession: I wrote it all in two weeks while working my full time job (and taking one insane less-than-48-hour roadtrip to Salem, MA for my 30th birthday!) and I felt totally unprofessional and like an absolute fraud while doing so.

Confession #2: If I had a choice, I would not go back and do it any differently.

You know why? Aside from these being some of the most sharply-focused, present-in-the-moment weeks of my recent adult life, I didn’t have a single moment to spare for over-thinking (except on the car ride home from Salem where I may have started to panic because I hadn’t written in two days, which we shall not speak about).

The thing is, SAVAGE CASTLE is a book that I am creating based on ~feeling.~ It’s a new thing I’m trying: listening to my gut, to what calls to me, to where the story jams and stumbles versus where it glides and flows. I literally feel these things in my hands and in my throat, and if I pay attention, if I just listen, if I just look for the words that feel the best, everything actually goes pretty smoothly.

(I have been told this isn’t exactly normal, that it might be a form of synesthesia, but since I eschew labels like that I’m just going to call it my gut feeling. I’m trying to live my life by it, these days. So far it’s working out pretty well.)

See, I trained myself to totally ignore my gut when I was younger. It caused a lot of trouble, that ol’ intuition and heart’s desire, but I became pretty darn good at stomping down the parts of me that wanted to take risks, dream big, or blaze trails. (I actually convinced myself I was already doing all of those things–that’s how tricky I am!) The problem is, of course, when you shut yourself down like that for so long, it has to come out somewhere, eventually. And it’s no secret on this blog that, for me, it all came out a few years ago in the form of a total nervous breakdown and eventual divorce (which was actually a byproduct of getting better and realizing I deserved much more than the life I was living). :D

So these last few years, I’ve been on a mission to retrain myself to hear that still, small voice (which is actually a big, loud voice by the time you reach breakdown mode–it just gets hard to hear over the sound of your ego screaming DANGER DANGER DANGER at every cool new idea you have), and writing a novel under an intense deadline is the best way to force yourself to drop all your hang-ups, issues, and concerns, and just write a damn fine piece of fiction.

My motto these past two weeks has been “I don’t have time for this shit!” regarding mowing the lawn, feeding myself, traffic anywhere, people being wrong on the internet, and, more literally, when the dog got into the litterbox and made a mess. But also, and more importantly, this motto was continuously applied to my insidious self-doubt, my tendency to get head-bobbingly sleepy when I’m stressed out, and my ability to make myself into a magical victim of the universe in three thoughts or less. I just did not have time for that shit before a deadline, but it was actually relatively easy enough to shake off so long as I always came back to this: I am a writer. There is nothing in heaven, hell, earth, or any other dimension that is ever going to change that. The only thing that can stop me, is me. So, terrible internal monologue: STFU. I can no longer hear you over the sound of me being awesome.

What I love about this experience more than anything, though, is that I learned something incredible: if I didn’t have time for that shit before deadline, then I can refuse to give my time to that shit now. I’ve given myself all the evidence I need to prove that shit was just an option all  along.

Saying “no” is always an option, except when it comes to what your heart wants (unless you’re into planning your future midlife crisis). You can say “no” when insecurity and harmful comparison to other authors rear their ugly heads. You can say “thanks, but no thanks” when your ego is trying just too damn hard to protect you/itself and wants to you “play it safe.” You can say “go fuck yourself” when it tells you “don’t get excited about this one, you’ve never gotten a book deal before and you never will.”

And so, what was the result of me learning to say no to shitty thoughts? What was the result of rushing to write the first 75 pages of a novel in two weeks, between the hours of sleep, and work, and dentists, and vets, and turning thirty 500 miles away from home?

Why, some of the best, most organic storytelling I’ve ever done.

Anyway, the book is far from finished, but I’ve got a hell of a lot of momentum going in the right direction. I can’t wait to see where it takes me. :D

THE TOWER Update and a New Project Revealed!

Happy May everyone!

I was really hoping I could have a release date and a cover reveal for you by now, but unfortunately my scheming and scheduling were interrupted by a mini-plague that had me too brain-foggy to finish revising THE TOWER. You see, the plan was to put THE TOWER aside come May 1st, all nice and neat and mostly finished, and start working on my next novel immediately. This is the novel I intend to bring to the YA Novel workshop with Nova Ren Suma at Djerassi this summer. It’s the novel I’ve been itching to write for weeks now. It’s the novel of which I need to have 75 pages completed and ready to submit to my fellow workshoppers come May 21st.

*gulp*

I probably shouldn’t be admitting this, for fear that my peers will realize I’m a big faker who is absolutely unprofessional to think she can crank out 75 pages in 21 days that would be good enough for a workshop like this. And they’d be right, I knew 21 days was a tight squeeze to begin with, but I work well under pressure. I like the pressure. It lights a fire under my butt and helps to silence the evil inner editor forever asking “but is that original enough?” “but is that going to change someone’s life?” “but is that PROBLEMATIC?”

So the tight squeeze is no problem. And, let’s remember, GHOST CITY was written in six weeks once I sat down and wrote past the second chapter, and I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. The plan for these pages was good: I didn’t need a whole novel in 21 days, I just needed 75 pages and some revision. Not a problem. Exciting, even!

But then the plague happened, and all I could do was sit in the sun and nap, like a giant stuffy-headed house cat, and when I wasn’t napping I sure as hell couldn’t focus long enough to revise or write a novel. I lost six days. Six precious days! And now I have 15 days to write 75 pages which according to standard agreements are 250 words each making it an approximate total of 18,750 words–about 1,250 words a day–that’s almost NaNoWriMo levels of madness! Plus, these have to be good words.

So, unfortunately, I can’t announce a release date for THE TOWER just yet–I refuse to do that until I have a finished manuscript ready to go to proofreaders, because I hate the idea of making a promise and not delivering. And along those same lines, without a release date I can’t comfortably do a cover reveal. Which saddens me to NO END because I am RIDICULOUSLY proud of these covers (ebook and print!).

But, one way to help me write 18,750 words in the next 15 days is to share my excitement over this new YA novel with all of you, so I’m going to do the unprofessional (or “unprofesh” as the cool kids say) thing and tell you the working title so I can start tweeting about it! :D

 

READY?

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savage castle

:D

I can’t give too much detail on what it’s about, but it’s going to be what I do best: dark, unusual, a little bit magical, and (hopefully) totally unexpected.

BUT if you really want me to tease you, here are some words that help give you the flavor of what this novel is all about:

  • Feral
  • Girls

And that is all I am going to give you today.

mojojojo

MoJo-JoJo sums up my life.

So if you see me freaking out on Twitter between now and May 21st about something called #SavageCastle, now you (sort of) know what I’m referring to! :D

Have a great week!