A New Chapter


This week has not gone as I expected.

This past Saturday and Sunday, I hit the outlining really hard. By the end of Sunday, something inside me changed.

History

I’ve worked on my current WIP for well over 5 years now (I thought it was just over 3 until I looked) and amassed more than 15 drafts on it, not including the countless revisions on those drafts. In the time that it had been on submission, I wrote a sequel and had outlined the third book.

Up until this past April, I had thought everything was on track. But after lots of feedback and self-reflection, I realized my WIP still had problems and was trying to make a trilogy out of a book that should have been standalone. All was not lost. I might have wasted 80+ queries, but I could rewrite and submit to agents I still hadn’t tried yet.

That’s what I told myself. I gave myself a two-month break from the story and decided to begin the rewrite during Camp NaNoWriMo. I got through five chapters and knew something wasn’t right. I thought the problem was that I didn’t have a new outline and it was tripping me up.

This Week

I had detailed the character arcs, the plotlines, and even the timelines. But upon setting out to actually outline yet another rewrite, my heart seized. It screamed STOP. I didn’t want to do this WIP anymore. The passion for it was gone. This wasn’t the feeling of wanting to procrastinate or frustration at having to do it all over again. No, this was an all-out NO. STOP. NO MORE!

I put down the outline and pencil. I walked away and took a couple days to let those feelings just settle. But after mulling it over and truly listening to my heart, my head agreed. I was done. I couldn’t do anymore. It was time to move on. And even though I feel horrible that I’ve wasted over 5 years of my life on this without anything to show for it, I know it’s right thing to do. There’s a strange peace about it.

What’s Next

Up until a couple of days ago, I would have said I don’t know. But thanks to some of my fellow #turtlewriters, an idea has begun to form, and I’ve been slowly fleshing it out as it comes. The plot is still a mystery to me, but the characters and setting are coming to life. I even know the main character’s character arc already. Would you believe I have the first six chapters nailed down? It’s a strange thing so far.

I’m not ready to say what it’s about just yet. I want it to continue to grow and develop in a real story. This process shouldn’t be rushed, I know. I guess we’ll see where it takes me.

The Shopping List

It’s going to be a short check-in this week.

Highlights

  • My son started 10th grade this week. Essentially, I’m getting old.
  • Learned Alton Brown and Steam Powered Giraffe will be coming to Dragon Con.
  • I finished reading The Dragonbone Chair. Long book, not so satisfying ending.

Grocery Shopping

If my novel were a meal that my readers could feast upon, then I finished the ingredient list this week.

I took the plot threads I had selected last week and defined all the events needed for those threads, start to end. Essentially, my ingredient list. I think a few of the measurements might be off, but the list IS there.

Next step is to start working my actual outline or recipe directions if you will.

Coming Clean

It’s almost a law of nature that nothing ever stays clean. My house and car, especially.

Dirty LEGO Bricks

Playing with LEGO bricks is something I’ve never outgrown, and I don’t plan to either. LEGO building as a kid was pretty simple. You poured them out everywhere, you played with them a while and maybe picked them up after you were done. It’s a big maybe.

What about those times the cat used them as a litter box? YES, that happened. What about those times you were sick and snotty but still played with them? What about all those times they were caked with dirt or food? They had to be cleaned. As a kid, I never thought much of it. Thank you, mom. As an adult, now I’m the one that has to clean the LEGO bricks.

You might not think ABS plastic needs to be cleaned, but you’d be wrong. And let me tell you, cleaning LEGO bricks is a serious pain in the backside. The last time I cleaned them, I made the HUGE mistake of putting them away when they still had some moisture on them. Now they smell a little on the funky side. *facepalm*

My Dilemma

I’ve got a good amount of LEGO bricks and cleaning that many takes a lot of time and space. This past weekend for instance, to really clean and dry 15 pounds of LEGOs, it pretty much took most of the day. I’ve got several hundred pounds of these things. As you can probably imagine, this is a tall task.

I’ve been scouring the internet for ways to wash and dry LEGO bricks in bulk, that don’t involve a dishwasher or washer/dryer. For those that don’t know, those will melt and damage LEGO bricks. Ultimately, I’ve come up empty handed. There’s not really a good way to do it in bulk. That means I’ll have to do them in small batches.

I did, however, find out a way to get them completely dry so that I don’t make the same mistake as last time. After running them through the salad spinner, if I put them in a box with dry dish towels and shake them for a few minutes, most of the water that’s trapped inside them will come out. After doing that, spread them out on a large dry towel for about 15-20 minutes. At that point, they’ll be dry as a bone!

It really makes me appreciate what my mom went through to clean my LEGO collection when I was younger.

Story Time

On the one hand, I feel like I haven’t gotten much done this week on my story. The day job has been off the chain, and by the time I get home, any creative energy is long gone. For this stage of the process, I need that energy. On the other hand, I’ve pulled apart all three novels and selected the plot threads that belong in the combined version of the story, along with the required events to make them happen.

That might sound good, but in all honesty, I’m still pretty much at square one. I can’t use the scenes I had before because the story is truly different when combined. So, I’m going to need to flesh out the events a bit more and see what I’m missing before I start trying to put scenes together. It’s a mission of discovery at the moment, rather than outlining.

My inner critic doesn’t believe that brainstorming and plotting count as writing, but my head knows better. They do. Yet, I still can’t help but feel like a poser when I’m in this part of the process, especially when others are writing or editing a finished manuscript. I hate emotions sometimes.

One thing is for certain; I want this planning stuff completed by Dragon Con. That gives me less than a month to get it done and get started on the first draft. Hell, or high water, that’s what I plan to do.

The Struggle Is Real

I’ve been listening to a lot of Linkin Park’s old music this week as well as Amy Winehouse. Both she and Chester Bennington left us far too soon. They each added such soul to their music, and because of that, they touched us deep inside. They are greatly missed.

Despicable Me 3

This past weekend, the family and I went to see Despicable Me 3. In a nutshell, Gru and his newly found twin brother Dru take on a washed up 90’s villain who aims to teach Hollywood a lesson. Like all the previous movies in the franchise, it was cute and made you want to laugh. Given the end of the movie, it sounds like there might be a Despicable Me 4 at some point in the future. Sorry, no spoilers here. You’ll have to see it to know what I mean.

Teavana Closing

People either love or hate Starbucks, in my opinion. I enjoy the atmosphere and how the barristers really try to get to know me, though that experience is changing it seems given stuff that I’ve read and things I’ve seen. Back in 2012, Starbucks bought Teavana, but now in 2017, they’ve announced they will be closing all 379 stores.

Teavana’s teas are aren’t high-end varieties, but they do have that kind of price tag. Even so, it’s been my primary source for loose leaf tea due to convenience and their available selections. While Starbucks has said that they’ll continue to carry some loose leaf in the stores, it won’t be the variety that the Teavana locations had. I feel sorry for all those employees too! What a sad day for tea drinkers.

If It Weren’t For Bad Luck

This week I accomplished NOTHING. Zilch. Nada. Goose egg. I’ve been struggling with combining the three novels into a standalone story. From 50,000 feet, it looked like a fairly simple job. It turns out it wasn’t so simple. When I started stringing plot lines together, it all fell apart in my hands like wet cotton candy. Those threads ended up being threadbare.

Upon spreading out all the scenes before me, I found out that most weren’t character driven. A vast majority of it was just padding to move the various plot lines forward, events happening to my characters rather than because of the characters’ choices. External events have their place in stories, but they shouldn’t be the meat and potatoes of those stories.

When I look at actual threads and what really works, there’s just not enough to weave together. Not even close. I’ve been working on this story in some shape or fashion for three years now. And after three years, I have nothing to show for it. I essentially have to start all over again, and I’m not sure I can stomach that with this story.

Do I rally the fragments of my ego and the wispy threads of my story in an attempt to try writing this damn thing again? Or do I try to write something else? I don’t know. I feel like my heart has been scraped against a grater till nothing is left. Ugg.

I better go write some poetry.

Once a Week, Go Geek!

Okay, I admit it. I pinched that title from a local Greek restaurant and made it my own. Don’t sue me. Mmm. Greek.

*clears throat*

San Diego Comic Con

Even over here on the East Coast, SDCC is featured on the news. Videos about it are featured on YouTube and #SDCC2017 trends on Twitter. I can’t seem to go anywhere without seeing or hearing something about it. On the one hand, I think it’s cool. I love seeing cosplay and the all the fans having fun. But I don’t want to go to SDCC. I want to go to Dragon Con, where it’s not so commercialized.

The Dragon Con progress report arrived at my house this week. It’s basically an overview of the planned tracks, guests, and events. I liked what I saw! Between that and all the SDCC news, I’m ready for Dragon Con to hurry up and get here. Alas, there are still 41 more days before it kicks off.

He’s a She?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, or you’re not a geek, you’ve heard about the Doctor Who announcement that Peter Capaldi will be replaced by Jodie Whittaker. A female. A woman doctor? Well, the internet blew up about it. BOOM! There were cheers of triumph from feminists; there were scathing remarks from men firmly set that the doctor has always been a man and should always be a man and then there are folks like me who were shocked but optimistic.

It’s not unheard of for a time lord to regenerate into a woman. That was established in the original series. It was also reinforced in the latest series where we’ve gotten to see it onscreen. The Master, the Doctor’s arch ‘frenemy’, had always been a male until recently where Michelle Gomez took on the role and played it, well, masterfully. Michelle set the bar for us. I’m hoping that Jodie can meet that, if not surpass it. If she can, I think it’ll be a good change.

But like it’s always been, it’s up to the writing. *fingers crossed*

Pixels

No, I’m not talking about your screen resolution. I’m talking about the movie that came out in 2015. Yes, two years ago. Don’t judge me. I never made it to the theater to see it when it came out and had been waiting forever for it to come to TV. It finally did! The movie is basically a comedy about aliens coming to Earth and challenging humans to war by using our own 8-bit creations against us.

Despite all the bad reviews, I actually enjoyed it! Yes, it was cheesy, but it’s Adam Sandler and Kevin James. Of course, it was going to be cheesy! It’s packed with 8-bit humor and worth seeing it if you happen to run across it. And afterward, I bet you’ll be wanting to play some of those old games too.

Camp Review

I finished up Camp NaNoWriMo this week by validating. I met my goal and then some, which was sweet. While I’ve done NaNoWriMo plenty of times, this was the first time I’d done one of their camps. In hindsight, the experience was an interesting one, but I don’t know that I’d do it again.

Pros:

  • Ability to set your own goals
  • Recognizes NaNoWriMo username

Cons:

  • Not mobile friendly
  • Restricted to one cabin
  • Buggy site
  • Forums limited
  • Lacks same energy as NaNoWriMo
  • Site emails are unending
  • Cabin chatroom very basic
  • Integration between camp site and main site lacking

My Hands Fell Off

This week I paused on my current WIP to type up all that poetry that been queued up for months. It was a busy week, but I managed to type up a little over 45 pages of poetry. People think writing by hand is tough on the hands and wrists, but I found that typing up that much stuff hurt worse! I’m dreading the fact that I need to type up my current WIP next.

Before I do that though, I need to flesh things out. I made the mistake of thinking I didn’t need to outline because I was just combining three novels that I’d already outlined and mostly written. I was WRONG. And YES, I can be wrong sometimes. Stop laughing. I reached chapter 5 and began to scratch my head because the actual how of combining that part of the story is still fuzzy for me.

I’ll figure it out. I always do. I just need to outline it first. Wish me luck!