Editing, When You’re Four

The other day, my four-year-old overheard me telling my husband I have a lot of work to do to edit my latest NaNo novel. Always helpful and convinced he can do anything (and be the best at it), he piped up, “I’ll edit it for you, Mommy.”

I said sure and thanked him for his help. A moment later, he spoke up again.

“What’s editing?”

Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? I have 50,000 words that I’m sure aren’t in the right order, and most of which probably won’t even stay on the page. If there are strict rules to editing, I haven’t figured them out. It’s a layered process of cutting what isn’t helping the whole and adding in other pieces to make each line sing. It’s push and pull. It’s frustrating. It’s hard to know when you’re finished. But it’s a necessity.

Before editing, all I have is a first draft. That’s something commendable, for sure, but the “first” part sticks out to me. It will probably be months before I can put “final” on this draft. Often, the time goals I set are too ambitious. But every time I sit down to work on it, I get a bit closer.

Sure, there are days it seems that handing it off to my little guy might not be such a bad idea. What I really need, though, is his attitude—that I can do anything, and because this novel is mine and mine alone, I am going to be best editor for it.

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Camp NaNo

This year, two of my goals were to repeat challenges I completed and enjoyed last year.

One is running a half marathon. I have my sights set on one in September, with training to start at the end of June.

The other is NaNoWriMo, which . . . I just finished! But wait, it’s not November!?!?

Camp-Winner-2015-Twitter-Profile

April is one of the Camp NaNo months the site offers. Thank goodness! While, of course, I could sit down and commit to thirty days of novel writing starting any day of the year, I love the little bar graph on the site that tracks my progress. Small joys, big results.

Today is a day of celebration! I have a third novel on the page, so to speak, and I didn’t have to wait another six months to get it there. There’s a ton of editing work to do on this—the chapters aren’t even in order—but I’m looking forward to that challenge. It’s good to have it out of my head, and it’s taken some twists I can’t wait to push and pursue.

To sum up, current novel standing looks like this:

Novel A: agented, rejected on first round of submissions, major rewrite paused for birth of child

Novel B: November 2014 NaNo novel, editing not yet begun

Novel C: April 2015 Camp NaNo novel, editing to commence mid-May, after a short story edit for writers’ group

And now, it’s time to make dinner.

Stay tuned for another interview coming your way very soon . . .

Return to Blogging

My late winter hiatus turned out much longer than expected. But then, it was a long winter—too much sickness, the passing of my grandmother, and more heavy snow than I would have liked.

But now we are here in spring. I have a beautiful little girl, whom my bigger boys love dearly. My first contraction came at our local library, which I hope says something about her interests as she grows. In the few weeks after she was born, I spent a lot of time in our rocking chair snuggling, nursing, and reading. A few of my favorite things, you might say, and good inspiration for new writing projects.

Currently, I am two-thirds of the way through a CampNaNoWriMo WIP that is pulling together a lot of ideas I’ve had over the last few years, as well as surprising me with a bunch of new ones. It may sound crazy to be writing right now, but life has slowed down so much since my girl was born that my brain has had a good deal of space to be creative. Must find a way to keep this up as she gets bigger!

Here on the blog, there are a couple of interviews on the horizon, one I hope to post later this week or early next. Freelance work is up and running, and my writers’ group is active and well.

This spring feels like a new chapter in so many ways, more than normal. I hope it’s that way for you, too, and that there are exciting pages coming your way soon.

Back to work!

Happy Consequences of NaNoWriMo

It’s nearly halfway through December, and I am still on a NaNo high. Apparently, the results are long lasting, especially when I consider the unexpected consequences of being a first-time NaNo winner.

 

The cookies and coffee I shared with my husband the night I finished (a day early, because there wasn’t the time on Sunday) were the first leg of the celebration, and undoubtedly the best. But in the days that followed, I also received a congratulatory Facebook message from my kindergarten teacher, who still holds a special place in my heart. Turns out, Mrs. B. remembers the stories I wrote those many years ago, complete with “inventive spelling,” which I hope has been remedied by this point.

 

Another bonus to the experience was a resurgence in interest in Nighttime Ninja, one of my favorite picture books to read to my kids. When I won the word sprint at my local kick-off party, the prize was a ninja hood, supposedly intended to be a “thinking cap” of sorts when we hit a wall. I took it home and used it to reread the story, which had languished too long on the shelf. My younger son, especially, fell back in love with the book, and has asked for it many times since. We always have to find the hood first, and we take turns wearing it.

 

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Now I am enjoying just knowing that I have two full manuscripts in my repertoire! I didn’t make any solid writing plans for December. I am enjoying the rest after a determined month-long focus.

 

I intend to start the new year with a literary bang, and am beginning to gear up to revise my previous novel in January. My writing time the next few weeks will be devoted to note-taking and editing my synopsis to figure out how to solve the problems my rejections illuminated. I am encouraged by the progress I made in a single month, and am already looking forward to next year’s NaNo.

 

But in the meantime, I have a heck of a lot of editing to do . . . and ninjas to read to, and Christmas cookies to eat.

Winner’s Circle

This morning, my husband I took our kids to a local Turkey Trot. It was the first time our four-year-old ran an official race (and the first time the younger one got to come along for the ride). It was a mile, which is a lot when you’re about three feet tall. Something like four minutes in, he told me, “Mommy, this is a long race!” My husband and I looked at each other. Kid had no idea.

 

For the next fifteen minutes, we walked and ran and ran and walked at his pace. Please keep in mind that it was thirty-two degrees outside. At one point he was talking a lot about when we were going to get to the end. We told him to focus on enjoying the running and not worry about the end; we would get there when it was time.

 

Sooner than I expected, the finish line was in sight. He wanted to walk, but we encouraged him to at least run through the finish line. We mentioned the Oreos we’d seen there earlier as motivation, and that seemed to help—again, thirty-two degrees. The smile on his face when he ran through the gate was priceless. We each received a little white ribbon as a token of our accomplishment. We walked to the aforementioned Oreo station, and he said, “Mommy, I didn’t think I was going to win, but I did!” We came in just about last, but he didn’t notice. He didn’t care. He had run his race, and that was what mattered.

 

Until tonight, I didn’t understand why those who completed National Novel Writing Month were called winners. Didn’t just one person win a race, a game, a challenge?

 

But then I hit 50K (actually a little over to make up for any discrepancy in my word processor’s word count). I submitted my novel and had my count validated. And I felt, for real, like a winner.

 

So now, my husband is making me a latte. Celebratory cookies are ready and waiting. And I am so grateful for the challenge of NaNoWriMo, for everyone who cheered me on along the way, and for the rough draft I thought would take five years to write, but was completed in a mere four weeks.

 

A winner, indeed!

NaNo Progress Report

We are sixty percent of the way through the month of November. Isn’t that an odd way to say it? It’s probably not the best way to gauge how far along I should be, considering that I am not planning to write every day, but there it is.

 

I started off strong—over five thousand words on my first day of writing! What a boon that was in making this thing work. It gave me room to shut down the computer early on a couple of nights when I was literally falling asleep while typing. If I can keep on target for the next less-than-two weeks, I will easily make my goal of 33,750 words. If I can step it up a little, I will make it to 50K.

 

What’s ultimately more important than word count is that I am making progress in figuring out where this novel is going, what’s happening, and, although to a lesser extent, who these people are.

 

The last time I tried NaNo, I had a figuratively sketchy idea of what the novel would entail. There was no outline; I’m not sure I had written more than a few pages of anything related before diving in. There isn’t an outline, per se, this time either, but I’ve been thinking about this novel for what might be close to a year. And I’ve been dying to know what happens (that’s a bit of a pun, as death plays a large role). That, coupled with the fact that I am due with another child on March 1, has upped the ante on getting some form of this thing on the page.

 

Still, last night, I found it tough to get into the work. There are things I know I need to edit out and rewrite. Plot points that need to trade places. But there’s no time for that. There’s more that needs to be written—even if it will all be deleted next month—first, and NaNo is helping me to get that done in a way I think I would struggle to do on my own.

 

There are times I want to make excuses. My grandmother has been sick. I’m toliet training my youngest. I’d almost rather watch another episode of The Biggest Loser. I’m pregnant and tired! My other novel was rejected by an editor I was very much hoping to work with (albeit for a very sound reason) the first week of the month.

 

But the camaraderie I experienced at the Kick-Off Party I attended and the prospect of “winning” NaNo are stronger. Last night, in a moment of Web-surfing weakness, I discovered that my agency’s revamped website had launched, and there I was, on the author page. There isn’t a title or a publishing house by my name. Yet. But I believe there will be.

 

Not, however, until I get back to work.

A Revised NaNoWriMo . . . Is That Even a Thing?

My first and only attempt at National Novel Writing Month was four years ago, when my first son was just two months old. I only made it to 25,000 words before all I could think of to do with my characters was kill them off. And it wasn’t the kind of book in which you’d expect anything like that to happen.

 

This year, I’m finding a bunch of different reasons to give it another shot, the main one being: I want to figure out where this novel I’m working on is going!

 

So I’m cheating a little bit. I’m continuing a work in progress, and have set myself a lesser goal of 33,750 words. My count was calculated by the number of sessions I expect to complete and the number of words I have proven I can put together in that duration.

 

There’s a part of me that’s hoping I’ll exceed expectations and make it to 50K, but I have to hold that piece at bay. The objective needs to be to get the words on the page to figure out what’s next. I’d be happy if, at the end of the month, I simply had a real, workable outline of the full novel—even if it means throwing out the majority of the pages I’ll produce. I mean, a real, workable manuscript would be better, but again, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

 

Because I’ve set my expectations realistically, I’m getting really psyched for the month to begin. I have an “in theory” calendar and an “in practice” calendar printed and annotated to mark my progress. I also have a week’s worth of prompts to get me started (I expect to do an hour and a half of free writing each night, not necessarily in the order of a narrative arc). My workspace is clear and waiting. Now all that awaits is the clock striking midnight.

 

Or the clock striking noon. There’s something romantic about starting at midnight, but I’m not sure it’s enough to make me do it!

 

Stay tuned for what I hope to be shorter, but more frequent posts with word counts.

 

Are you embarking on the NaNoWriMo challenge as well? Let’s be buddies! Find me as 34Kforthewin. Good luck!