Tag Archive: book update

September Writing Update: I’M SO BEHIND!

Me about to start a writing session a couple weeks ago.

Hello friends!

Remember how I excitedly posted this blog a while back about my timeline for Ahlam? Well that time line proposed a finished first draft by October 1st and I haven’t written in a solid week. Yikes.

I was doing really well and then this last week, I’ve just gotten real sad. I’ve been focusing on feeding myself and keeping my apartment livable, while also trying to keep myself from getting too sad to go to work. Those things are going well. I washed my sheets tonight. I’ve been eating in my bed a lot, so that was long overdue. Also, this weekend, I’m going to the grocery store to stock up on healthy options. I’ve eaten way too much candy and crap this week because I’m running low / am out of yummy healthy food. I’ve mainly been subsisting on noodles and peanut butter, besides the candy.

I went home last weekend though! I spent four days (Thursday through Sunday) back in Nashville chilling with the fam. It was amazing. This weekend, I’ve made plans to go thrift shopping with Mimi and we’re going to go to Ikea and pick out a couch for my apartment. I’m dying without one. Basically, I’m slowly getting my life back on track after it crashed and burned emotionally for many, many days. That said, I am hoping to get back on track with my writing quickly and finish my draft by Mid-October. At the very least, I would like to finish my first draft by November, so I can do NaNoWriMo on a new project. I have never won real NaNoWriMo, only Camp NaNoWriMo. Also, the theme for this year is space and I need an excuse to buy myself space swag.

The writing itself, when I manage to do it, is getting a lot harder. I’ve passed the easy exposition, setting up the plot stuff and now I’m plowing into large emotion filled scenes and rising action. It’s been really difficult to write because Ahlam, herself is going through a lot. Her brother is missing, she’s at a new job, and she feels really isolated. In order to write the scenes well, I have to tap into angst of years past and / or imagine if my little brother suddenly ran away from home and we couldn’t find him. As you can imagine, that makes writing at a swift pace very difficult.

Nearly every scene is emotionally taxing and requires a lot more thought and time than the first 30 thousand words of the book. The scenes aren’t bad though. They take a long time to write, but I think this book is turning out really well. I know it’s a rough draft and I have a lot of changes and real research that I need to do before I can finish it. However, I am quite proud of it so far.

I’ve gotten back into the swing of my content creation this week. After no videos last week and only a blog, I’ve written this blog, posted my WogsVlogs video and already filmed my alorabora video for tomorrow. I just need to edit it. Things are back on the up an up, so I expect lots more writing in my future.

How are your writing / creative projects going? Hit any snags?

Talk to you soon,

-Alora

P.S. If you want updates on my writing, while I write, I always tweet about my writing sessions.

Good Bye, Complete Immersion

me with a cup of tea reading Paper Hearts

Hey guys,

I am reading Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice by Beth Revis right now which you may have noticed because it is mentioned in my sidebar. Anyways, in her book, Beth talks about letting go of writing projects. She wrote ten novels before she was published and I have spent the last three years on one story. Hence, the title of this blog post.

I have decided to move on from the story I have been working on for so long. So, without further ado, good bye, Complete Immersion. I will miss you and your characters. I poured hours of my life into this story and it was worth it in the end because I learned new things about writing and about myself but mostly about writing. 😛

I had a lot of fun the last three years working on this story, but it’s reached the point that I just don’t even want to work on it anymore. I still want to write but I feel bad not working on Complete Immersion. It’s not even good enough to query and I’ve revamped the plot so many times that I’m not sure what’s going on half the time. On top of that, my work has been very stop and go which is confusing and frustrating, so I am shelving it. I may return to it some day when I have the strength to tackle it, but I may leave it on the shelf, too. It was good practice for future stories and that is what truly counts.

While working on Complete Immersion, I’ve been piling up ideas, and I am looking forward to moving on to a new one. While I was in London last May (check out my vlogs from that trip), I started Ahlam Warsi: Private Detective. It is the story of a young, English-Muslim woman moving to London for a new job as a private detective. The plot of the story itself focuses on her interactions with the human trafficking industry in and around London. I wrote the first two chapters and an outline for it last May. Now, I’m moving forward with the rest of the story and I’m super hype! I don’t feel guilty for not working on Complete Immersion because it has been shelved. I can move on with a clean slate.

On that note, you can look forward to future blog posts about my new project and I will stop complaining about Complete Immersion. Also, I changed the word count bar on the side to account for my new story, so you can watch that grow as well. 😀

Have you benched a project after working on it for a while? I’m curious, but also, I don’t want to be alone in this.

Anyways, thanks for reading

-Alora

On Speak Now: Marraige Equality on Trial by Kenji Yoshino

Picture of me holding a rainbow that I drew for the occasion.

Hello all,

I recently checked out Speak Now: Marraige Equality on Trial by Kenji Yoshino from my local library. The book details the trial Hollingsworth v. Perry that legalized gay marriage in California for good. The book has three parts: before the trial, during the trial, and after the trial. Each section provides an interesting narrative on the progression of the case and information on Yoshino’s own life and marriage to his husband. As the reader, learns about the monumental trial, they also learn about Yoshino’s two kids and how the trial affected him and his husband. The book is also studded with information Yoshino got from interviews with the trial participants. Speak Now is an exhaustive look at Hollingsworth v. Perry, but it was never boring to read. Yoshino keeps it interesting and I loved learning more about LGBTQIA history.

Yoshino makes a law proceeding that would probably be boring for most people to read, interesting and suspenseful. The book shines with his love of law and it is impossible not to be a little infected by his passion for the subject. I started the book on the day gay marriage was finally legalized in the US. woOT! I was and still am very happy that there is a bit more equality in this world and it was very interesting to read Speak Now and learn about the legal side of the campaign for marriage equality. I’ve been following and participating in the more social side of the movement, but I knew almost nothing about the legal part of it. I’m glad I picked this book up because it may have focused on Hollingsworth v. Perry, but it provided enough background information that I didn’t feel lost in my ignorance.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in marriage equality and how far we have gone to achieve it. It was a very in depth and at times technical book. It took me about a week to read the whole thing, but it is not entirely indigestible by a lay person like me. It just takes a bit more time to get through each page.

I am glad that I’ve decided to read more non-fiction books this summer. The non-fiction books I have read so far have been wonderful and very interesting. I did not realize how much I was missing by sticking to fiction for so long. I don’t think I will ever manage to read almost entirely non-fiction like my dad does, but I definitely want to continue to incorporate more into my reading diet.

I’m going to the pool with my siblings right now, but you, my friend, should go read a book, and then draw a rainbow because we have succeeded in securing marriage equality and it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. Hooray!

What non-fiction books have you been reading lately, if any? What new knowledge did they give you?

-Alora

P.S. I don’t have a picture of the book for this blog because I already returned it to the library. Sorry. Enjoy my rainbow instead.

Week One Report from Camp NaNoWriMo

Me looked confused at the notes I've made on this mess of a novel.

Heya,

So Camp NaNoWriMo has been going pretty well. I haven’t written anything today, but I’m only 2,000 words behind. I can easily catch up and finish by the end of the month. My only worry right now, is the impending road trip….

Anyways. My novel is officially up to 58K! Fifty-eight thousand words. How crazy is that? It’s the longest thing I’ve ever written and I’ve deleted and rewritten over half of it. It’s utterly unbelievable. After the initially slow word counts, I managed to pick it up. I wrote over two thousand words yesterday. Below is a graph of my daily word counts for this past week. As you can see, day one and today are very sad looking. I haven’t written anything today because I wanted to update y’all before I started in on the grueling task.

bar graph of my daily word counts

My total Camp NaNoWriMo word count graph looks a bit better. The dotted line shows the trend that meeting your daily word count would take you along. I’m not that insanely far below it.

My graph of Camp NaNoWriMo total word count taken from the Camp NaNo website

I’m pretty proud of how Camp NaNoWriMo is going so far and I have a great cabin of other writers I can talk to. I’ve decided that, as a present to myself, if I win Camp NaNoWriMo, I am going to purchase, Scrivener, a fancy processor and writing tool. I’ve used it before, but I didn’t buy it last time. If I win I get 50% off, so I can get it for cheap. Also, as an added bonus, once I finish this draft, which may or may not occur when I win Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m buying myself a Mayday Parade shirt. They are one of my favorite bands and that is all I listen to while I write, so I thought I’d commemorate that with a T-shirt. I can always use a new T-shirt.

Also, I complete reorganized my note system on Sunday. I was home alone for most of the morning and I printed a bunch of my typed up notes and created a bunch more pages in my binder (pictured above). It’s where I store all of my written data on Complete Immersion. I did so much world building on Sunday, I had to almost completely reorganize my binder. And, if anyone ever wants to make this thing into a movie, I have literally mapped out three quarters of the scenes. Whenever I feel lost about where everyone is, I just draw a picture and slap some names on it. Drawing a picture always helps. Listen to your teachers, kids.

I’ve been using my little brother’s room for the past week because it has my desk in it, but he’s back from the beach now, so I no longer have an empty room that I can lock myself in. I need to figure that out. There is a card table in my room that Mom set up for me. I can use that, but I don’t really want to. I like my desk. It’s a nice desk, and it’s what I wrote the first draft of this novel on, so I’m used to writing while I sit here. Oh well, I’ll figure something out.

For now, I must go. I need to work on my novel and I have two book reviews to write. I finished Speak Now yesterday, and then immediately started Trial by Fire which I raced through before I got a chance to update my Currently reading. Oops.

Good luck fellow Wrimos! We can both do this! How did your first weeks of camp go?

-Alora

The Hell of Revision

A picture of the writing space I used today.
Hello friends.

Writing a novel is difficult, but I think the far more difficult task is revising the first draft into something readable. Just revising it, so that someone who hasn’t had three different versions of the plot explained to them will know what is going on. That is what I spent two hours working on today.

For those of you that do not know, in July of 2013, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo. I wrote 50 thousand words of a novel in a month. It was amazing. Since then I have been on and off revising that novel. I have often gone months between revisions which makes the act of revision very difficult. As of right now, I am on the fourth draft, but the book is nowhere near done. I’ve entitled it Complete Immersion and there is a counter in my “Currently” widget on the right that I am using to keep track of the number of words it has. You can use it to check up on how my novel’s going.

Today was the first time I’ve worked on Complete Immersion since I’ve been home for the summer, and it was extremely difficult to get anything done. Getting a good momentum was almost impossible and it only lasted a few minutes. My desk is in Maxwell’s room right now, and he is using it, but last night I asked him if I could borrow it for a few hours to get some writing done. He agreed and cleared me a space. After I got home from work, I proceeded to lock myself in there for two hours. It was rough. I only revised two pages. I have seen writing compared to pulling teeth and that analogy would definitely apply to today’s revisions. It was hell.

But. I am going to get back in the habit of revising a little bit everyday and it should get easier. Tomorrow I will revise for another two hours, maybe more. I will get this novel into a good shape this summer.

Now that I have complained about my revisions, I want to talk about how I revise. When I first started to revise Complete Immersion, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I’ve kinda figured it out, maybe. Idk, but I am going to talk about it. Please discuss how you revise/edit in the comments and we can have a good old fashioned discussion.

When I revise, I read through the story from start to finish and change whatever pieces I don’t like. Then, when I get to the end, I start over from the beginning. I make sure everything sounds good. I fix dialogue. I check facts. I reconcile character actions with their backstories. I usually end up completely rewriting half of what I already had, because the idea was good but the execution was poor. I wrote Complete Immersion without much planning, so a bunch of my revising time is spent “planning.” I map out locations and write down new character details. I have a binder that I keep beside my computer while I write that has maps, basic character info, character notes, plot notes and just a bunch of thoughts on the story. I reference it and some documents on my computer often. They help keep me on track. That way, I won’t end up with too many plot holes and character inconsistencies when I reach the end of the story.

With each revision, the story gets better and better. In between revisions, I learn so much more about writing and writing well. Also, like everything, writing gets better with practice. Revision gets easier with practice too. (Well, so far it has.) Oh, and here is a biggie. Show don’t tell. Everybody and their mom throws this phrase around, but I don’t think I truly understood it before I wrote Complete Immersion and then began revising it. Now however, I definitely understand and I like to think I am better at it. In my mind, showing gives the reader a stronger sense of being in the story, almost like they were watching a movie. Whereas telling almost feels like a dream. You know stuff is happening, but you can’t quite make it all out. I think it is harder to feel fully involved and invested in the story.

Other than that, revision is mostly grunt work, which is why I am still revising two years after I wrote first wrote the story. Actually, it’s been almost two years to the day since I started Complete Immersion. This July is Camp NaNoWriMo 2015!!!! (I wrote Complete Immersion in July 2013.) I am super excited. I think I’m going to set up a word count per revised page system and use Camp NaNoWriMo to inspire myself to revise, revise, revise.

Now, I must go. Good luck on any revisions that you may be working on. Please share your difficulties in the comments and we can commiserate. Also, check out Camp NaNoWriMo. It is a month of writing where you can pick any word count and work together with other campers to hit your goal. Your words could be working towards a novel, a play, a revision of a novel, a dissertation, anything. It is super fun and I have made a lot of friends through participating. I am definitely planning on participating this year.

I hope to see you all at camp! 😀

-Alora