Structure in chaos

I’m going to try and use this site more as an actual blog. We all need something to read, right?

In the beginning of March, I quit my dayjob. (Rather abruptly, I admit.) I was aching and frustrated, and tired of trying to confirm to yet another office situation. (I’d left my previous job of almost five years late last year for this one, but it wasn’t what I hoped, and I didn’t want to go back to my old job, either.) I’ve spent the month working on freelancing: editing the old Torquere Press books, getting ready to work in voiceover, looking for something part-time that hopefully wouldn’t drain me body and soul like the last job.

Then real life got really, really weird.

To be honest, it hasn’t changed much about my day-to-day life except now I can’t go to a coffee shop or the library to work when I need a change of scenery. Except it kind of was: I was having trouble concentrating, or even focusing on a single project for more than a few minutes. This whirlwind in my mind was getting in the way of my goals. At the same time I felt excited and happy, because finally finally I was following my dreams. (Yes, sometimes I do wonder if I’m manic-depressive rather than just depressive, or if this the way people whose brains work normally feel all the time.)

So yesterday I decided I need to be better aware of how I spend my time, and set up my day to actually get some things accomplished rather than spend three hours watching Youtube and then deciding it was too late in the day to work on anything.

It wasn’t a whole lot yesterday: voiceover in the morning, study a language (I decided to learn Hawaiian for an upcoming story), two hours for a movie, writing time, make my mother a nice dinner. (Grilled cheese with bacon and tomato on sourdough bread, with salad and corn chips. It was a hit.)

Today I began the day with yoga, something I’ve been meaning to get back into for a while, and I feel wonderful: pleasantly stretched, and calmer in my mind. Shower’s been taken, and next is language study time, errand-running (my mother’s 80 and in poor health, so yep), then writing time for a contract job. Then a movie, maybe. Or two hours of Youtube.

Be well out there.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

#preptober number 3: eleven days to go

Welp.

I’m prepped. I mean, I can’t think of anything else I need to do aside from “start writing.” I’ve made a scene-by-scene outline. I’ve collected my visuals and notes. I’ve made character worksheets and story circles.

I’m ready for it to be November. Only, it’s not November.

I do have another project I need to finish by next week, so that’s something to occupy myself with for a week. But I’m waiting on a few things for that, too, so…

Now we wait. Waitober?

Preptober #1: Sixteen days to go

Just like there’s no one right way to do Nanowrimo, there’s no one right way to prepare for it. There are checklists, prompts, and worksheets available, but I’ve worked out a method of my own to get ready this year.

This year’s Nanowrimo project is my third attempt to write a music-based romance: Continuo, the story of a cellist named William and a music producer named Oisin. I’ve always gotten stuck about 10,000 words in. This year, though, I’ve made a plan, and have spent October refining it.

I started with Dan Harmon’s Story Circle. This lets me see the main beats of the story, from the approach of Orderly World -> Chaotic World -> New World. Since Continuo is a romance, I made a circle for both William and Oisin so I could see their character arcs separately, and then one for the two of them together to see where their arcs conflict and intertwine.

With the general beats in place, I then worked out a 7 Plot Point Structure outline. This lets me see the actual events and actions that lead to the emotional beats, and their consequences. So now I know why William and Oisin (and the secondary characters) do what they do, and the consequences that result.

I’ve been jotting down ideas for scenes for months, so I collected them into a notebook in GoodNotes, my new favorite note-taking app, along with notebooks for William and Oisin’s character notes, research, and flashbacks that may or may not appear in the actual story. I’ve also been making a Mood board on Pinterest, and a playlist. That’s just in iTunes: I may share it on Spotify later. It’s a lot of cello music, including classical quartet covers of pop and metal songs (classical quartets love Metallica), and songs that fit the story thematically. I visited one of the locations last year, so I’ve made a notebook of my photos for more visual inspiration.

The Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, CA.

Still to do: face casting for secondary and minor characters, more research, and deciding on which writing app to use. That will probably be the subject next time.

Good luck to all participating!

An Update on the Book Situation

Back in February, readers on Archive Of Our Own let me know that two different people had plagiarized Fidele. They published it on Amazon KDP under their own names, and in one instance another (terrible) title. I reported the plagiarism and the books were quickly removed, but it still left me upset and doubting my future as a writer.

I removed Fidele from the site and locked it to registered users only on AO3, and removed the free downloads of my previously-published books. I had high hopes for this experiment, but it never really panned out the way I hoped. The plagiarism only added my feeling of failure.

I had a good long think about what I wanted to do. I’ve always been a storyteller, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in elementary school, but no step along the way has been smooth or easy. I’d had plans for Fidele, but after the plagiarism incident it seemed to me I’d need to take drastic measures, and soon.

I looked at various publishing partners for indie writers, and decided to go with Draft2Digital, for its variety of retailers and ease of use. I’ve listed Ebony Angel and Aubade with them so far, and I’m pleased with the results.

I’m currently doing one final rewrite/reformat edit on Fidele. Watch this space for updates. More of my previously published books will also be available by year’s end.

Game Day Snack Mix

Strictly speaking, this is a game day/movie night/rainy reading day/I want a snack-snack. I’ve made it today for the family Big Game party, which, frankly, I’m probably going to spend playing Parkitect. (Someday I’ll wax rhapsodic on my love of theme park games.) Basically, it’s all of my favorite snacks put together, always good for a self-indulgent sort of day.

Amounts are whatever’s available or adjust to taste.

  • Small pretzels
  • raw, shelled almonds
  • raw, shelled walnuts
  • chocolate-covered almonds
  • dried cranberries
  • white chocolate chips

Dump into a big bowl. Stir. Eat with something fizzy to drink.

“More time, more time.”

Every year around December, I make a schedule — a list of writing goals for the year, what project I plan to do when, any applicable due dates, that sort of thing.

And every year, for December I just put Breathe.

Oh, there are project and deadlines most years, in addition to holidays and dayjob things to wrap up, but the most important thing is to just breathe.

This has been a rough year, rougher than most, and pretty much every creative person I know has had a hard time creating. It’s not great, but it’s okay.

Just breathe.

We need to be forgiving of ourselves at year’s end; rather than focusing on what’s unfinished and undone (and goodness knows there are a lot of things I intended to do this year and didn’t due to time and health and family and life) we need to shed all that and vow to do better next year.

And breathe.

I know I need to take my own advice. My lament so often is “too many ideas, not enough time.” When asked if I ever worry about running out of ideas, my response is basically, “I could write every day for eight hours a day for the next thirty years and not finish all the ideas I have.” Between all the other life things, it’s getting harder and harder to find an hour or two to write, and there’s a weariness lately that’s set in that makes my brain feel like a perpetual rainy day, dreary and gray and utterly uninspired.

But it’s December. A new year’s coming, with new hopes and goals and things to look forward to, even if it’s looking forward to finishing.

Breathe.

Title quoted from “Year’s End” by Richard Wilbur