Shaking Off The Rust

Howdy, howdy!  Yesterday was Dad’s birthday, so I want to say another quick happy (belated) birthday to him!  Feel free to leave him a greeting here or on my social media pages and I’ll pass it on to him.  Anyway, this week, I want to ramble a bit about figuring out when to switch projects and when to power through the slow points, which is something I really struggle with.  I was always encouraged to finish a project before moving on to the next one.  But what happens when you try to push through the mental wall blocking you from the story and three months later you’ve only managed to move forward thirty pages?  When is enough enough?

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It’s kind of like when your EVA goes berserk and tries to smash through the wall, but there’s just more wall behind that wall, until it finally it runs out of energy and you, the pilot, are left a bleeding and broken mess.  Yeah, like that.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little (okay, extremely) stagnant when it comes to my writing.  I fully admit that I haven’t been working on that front as much as I should, even though I have no excuse not to be writing.  But the words refuse to come.  I know the storyline and everything, but the novel doesn’t excite me at the moment.  In fact, it doesn’t instill any emotions in me.  That’s not to say that I’ve given up on it.  Not at all.  I know exactly why I’m lacking any emotional investment in this book (it’s the second book in my Demonic Jewels series, the first of which I’m querying agents with and I can only take so many rejections before I start questioning the entire concept of the series, but that feeling will eventually pass, I hope).  And I’ve been trying to push through all of this for the better part of three months, but it’s proving impossible.

I’ve tried a number of tactics to get past the wall.  I wrote some short stories then tried to go back to the novel.  Didn’t help.  I worked on revisions to a different novel then tried once again to get back to Bailey and her crew.  No luck.  I even tried just plotting everything out in my head so I’d know exactly where I was going when I sat down to write (a method that has worked well in the past), and still nothing.  What else can I do?  Seriously, I’m open to suggestions.

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I don’t think dropping an anvil on me will work, but you can try!

However, over the past two weeks, some characters who have lived in my head for many years (at least 12) have been pushing their way to the front of my mind.  Normally, they only bring vague story ideas with them, but this time they have something concrete that I’m actually super in love with.  It’s well outside of my wheelhouse, combining fantasy (I can do that) with a cozy-esque mystery (not so sure I can pull that part off) and a dash of romance (will probably fail miserably at that part).  But I’m excited just thinking about it, and the last thing I felt this way about I finished in record time.  So, I’ve decided to put Bailey on the back burner again while I revise my other novel-in-progress and write this new one.  Is that a stupid decision?  Maybe.  But if it gets me writing, who cares?

wish+me+luckWhat about you?  What do you do when you can’t get past a block on a project?  How do you know when it’s time to set things aside and try something else?  Leave your thoughts or comments or questions here or on my social media pages!

Word Count? Who Needs That?

Hello, hello!  It’s that time again.  Today, I want to talk a bit about word count.  It’s a subject that Lew Andrada suggested when I asked for questions and comments and all that.  It’s also a subject I struggle with, because it’s pretty arbitrary.  Anyone you ask seems to have a different answer when it comes to the correct lengths of things.

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We’ve all encountered a scenario like this one.  I actually kind of think that’s where the concepts of word counts really help (me at least).  It gives me a firm goal to keep in mind and work toward, that way I can have a more realistic idea of how long a project will take me to finish.

So, how do I approach word count?  I keep it simple!  I basically follow SFWA’s counts for the Nebula awards.  In other words, these rules:

Short Story: less than 7,500 words.
 Novelette: 7,500 words to 17,500 words.
 Novella: 17,500 words to 40,000 words.
 Novel: 40,000 words or more.

Adult

Now, I know that “novel” is an extremely broad category that can be broken down by genres or even target audience age.  In fact, the list above is just one example of many break downs you’ll find with a quick Google search.  No, none of them are the same.  Yes, it gets really confusing really fast.  On top of all that, you also have lists for middle grade, young adult, adult, and a relatively new category dubbed new adult.  It’s complicated.  I don’t like complicated things.

In other words, I don’t bother with all of that crap.  My goal is based on my story.  If I’m going for a flash fiction piece (<1000), I usually aim for 900 words.  A short story?  Around 5,000 words.  A novel?  It depends on what it feels like.  I tried for 70,000 to 75,000 for my first novel after tons of research on word count.  It is a supernatural YA, so on top of feeling like a good amount, it also turns out to be a fairly average count for that type of book.  The novel I’m currently working on is different.  I’m going more by my gut for this one.  My current aim is 80,000 to 90,000 just because that’s what it feels like it will need.  I’m sure my past research is playing some kind of unconscious role, but whatever.

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On the other hand, enforcing a word count can lead to fears of rambling.  Don’t worry!  You can fix all of that during edits.  That’s also another factor that goes into choosing my own word count.  I like to choose a middling number, just in case I need the wiggle room.  I have space to brutally cut out all of the nonsense if I need to, but I also have room to fix anything that’s not fleshy enough.

What I mean to say is that word counts are great tools, but don’t let them freak you out.  Let them help you establish a more concrete timeline for finishing your work, but don’t let them rule your work.  Keep it simple and fun, or it’s not worth doing.  At least that’s how I feel about it.  What are your thoughts on word count?

No School! The Feels…

Hello there!  I think I’ll address another question/comment today.  Remember, feel free to send me questions or comments or whatever here or at Facebook or TwitterThis one is from Dallas FunkShe recently brought it to my attention that we aren’t preparing for a new semester, we aren’t panicking to finish up our last packets, and we aren’t getting ready to travel halfway across the country for ten days of writerly business and fun.  How does that make me feel?  Well…

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Actually, that’s only kind of right.  Sure, I’m sad, but I’m also a little excited and relieved and not as stressed (though I fully admit to facing new kinds of stress).  I mean, right about now is usually when I’d be starting to prepare for the residency and worrying over the drive that isn’t for another month (irrational fears FTW!) and all that.  Instead, I started writing a new novel this month while I wait for feedback on the other one.  I had been working on a collection of short stories, which was becoming tedious, so I switched projects.  The fact that I’m not working towards a thesis, and that I didn’t have to check with anyone first, made it much easier to convince myself that this kind of shift is okay.  The freedom, man!  The freedom!

I will definitely miss everyone, but this is what happens as we grow.  We lose touch with some and make new connections with others.  Also, I’d normally have a social buffer right around this time to make the transition easier.  A weekend out among other similar minded freaks (granted, these are anime lovers, not writers, but still).  Also known as A-Kon weekend.  But I’ve chosen to skip it this year (that was a dumbass move on my part).  I think that has me more sad than anything.  I knew school was a limited time thing going in, but this is the first time in thirteen years that I’ve skipped A-Kon.

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The Minion and I almost ready for the masquerade ball last year.

Don’t get me wrong, it is time for a break from A-Kon, but I kind of regret doing it the same year I finished school.  However, I am trying to stay a little social by going to readings and stuff.  Yeah… I guess that’s really the biggest “sad” part about not prepping for a new semester.  It’s just the lack of socializing that’s got me a little down.  That’s actually a pretty terrifying revelation for someone who never really cared about having a social life.  Gee thanks, Stonecoast!

I guess what all this boils down to is that I’m having feels about the situation, but none of them are really standing out.  Actually, I posted a Facebook status a few days ago that said “It feels weird to not be prepping for A-Kon or a new semester.  I shouldn’t have stopped both in the same year.  Sad Cyn is sad.  In other news, I decided to start a new novel tomorrow.  It’s a standalone.  Much more post-apocalypse (but not really) sci-fi than I’m used to writing.  I’m kind of excited.”  That was when a friend’s mom asked if I was bipolar (jokingly, of course) and I replied with “It’s a writer’s life!  Conflicting emotions are the norm.”  So, that there’s the short version of everything I just said.

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A writer’s life… So many feels, bro.  So many feels.