stay with it!

(I know I promised you posts on craft. Consider this a warm-up.)

I can’t remember who coined the phrase, me or one of my critique partners, but we complain about Project ADD. I have this problem where I get super enthusiastic about a new story and can write like a furious beast for two or three weeks—sometimes that’s enough time to churn out a workable first draft, usually it isn’t—and then my interest wanes and something new and shiny comes along. My hard drive is littered with the corpses of abandoned projects, stories that I probably thought had potential at the time but which I have no desire to finish now.

Enter NaNoWriMo. I considered not even participating this year because I’ve got so much else on my plate, but I worked out in October that I could take time out to start this new series I’ve been planning for a while and still meet my other deadlines.

I’ve been splitting November between finishing the as-yet untitled sequel to The Stars that Tremble and starting this new series. And there’s a third book calling to me.

In the sequel’s case, I’m just about done now; I only need to finish formatting the manuscript and come up with a title before I can fling it out of my inbox. It wasn’t a book that was hard to write, but it did take me a long time to work out the ending. That seems like a silly thing to say about a romance novel—they end up together, duh!—but tying up all the loose threads took some time. I’m happy with the results, though. And I’m actually sad to be leaving these characters, especially Sandy, behind, but it’s time.

In the series’s case, I had two weeks of gleeful typing, but now that I’m well into week 3, I kind of want to work on other projects. I’ve got a manuscript that I wrote over the summer but put aside to finish higher priority projects, and now it’s calling to me all, “fiiinish meeee.”

But, no, I want to at least get Book 1 of this series written. I like to let first drafts steep for a little while because the revision process goes better if I go back to them with fresh eyes. So the idea would be to finish this book, then go back to the other manuscript.

But, wow, this one has been hard. Tertiary characters from the series are talking to me. I’ve got the first three books in the series outlined, and the heroes of the other books are telling me stories. It’s been pretty hard to focus on this first book.

But a series is nothing without its first book, and the first book has to be a good one to hook the reader on the series, so I really need to stick with it and not let myself get distracted.

The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it sort of forces you to stick with it. Like, dude, I write year round, I know I can write 50,000 words in a month. That’s cake. (That’s probably actually only slightly more than my average monthly output.) What’s hard is forcing myself to stick with a story.

Like, last NaNo, I actually stopped in the middle of the month and put aside my project—a novel about a young guy who falls for his agoraphobic neighbor—to write Save the Date. I have no regrets, but that novel about the agoraphobic guy never got finished. Someday, right? It’s in the revision queue with, like, six other half-finished projects.

So I keep saying to myself that I have to write AT LEAST 50,000 words of book one of this series. It’s a contemporary series based around an LGBT amateur sports league. The guys in the first book—who have really complementary personalities, in that one is strong where the other is weak—meet when one of them joins a baseball team in this league. Me telling people I’m writing about a bunch of guys in a gay baseball league makes their faces light up, so clearly I’m on to something, even if I’m not totally confident in this first book. Yet. I will edit it later. But in order to get it done, I can’t let myself get distracted by other projects.

So that’s what I’m using NaNo for, to force myself into sticking with a project when I’m getting distracted by other projects. And hopefully, I will have a completely (very) rough draft by the end of the month, and you will see book one of the Rainbow League series on shelves some time in 2015.

coming up on the blog

I’ve been kind of a blog slacker.

When I first threw this website up, I wasn’t intending to have an official blog—this was more of a space for Kate-related news such as release dates and public appearances and the like—but I apparently cannot resist the siren call of a blinky cursor and I started blogging sort of regularly. Then I started picking Five Things to write about on Fridays as a way to get myself to actually update the blog on some kind of regular schedule. I’ve been bad about actually following up with that since the summer due to busyness—and, frankly, if I only have an hour to write some days, that hour is going to be spent on a novel and not a blog post—but I think a blog is a good outlet for some of what I want to say.

I have a lot of posts I’ve written but not posted, mostly on craft-related topics, because I keep thinking that How to Write blogs are kind of a dime a dozen, and there are plenty of blogs about craft written by smart articulate people that will teach you more than I ever could.

More to the point, a lot of writing advice is subjective. I almost said, “a lot of writing advice is bunk,” but that’s not really true. I have received and incorporated a lot of great advice over the years. I still buy and read books on craft, even. But not all writing advice is good for all writers. There are very few universals or absolute truths in creative professions. Things I like, processes that work for me, tips and tricks I employ regularly, those things might not work for you. Heck, it’s November; NaNoWriMo is one of those things that is like a godsend for some writers and completely anathema to others. So, basically, if I’m like, “Hey, you should do this thing!” you would be well within your rights to listen politely and then completely ignore everything and go do something else. That’s how it goes. We all forge our own way.

But I do try to improve and learn more all the time. My goal is for each book to be better than the last. I have some sense of my own weaknesses as a writer, so I’ve been focusing on getting better at those things. I’ve attended craft workshops and read books and I read critically all the time to try to discern why some things work but others don’t. What qualities do I consistently find in the books I truly love that are absent from my own work, and how do I fix that? That sort of thing.

But there are some things I have figured out. So I thought that, for the rest of November, I’d throw some stuff up on the blog to see if any of it sticks. You all can feel free to weigh in and discuss things. But, in the interest of sharing information and bettering ourselves as writers, I don’t want to hoard what I know, nor do I want to tell you what to do. Just… here are some things I’ve figured out about writing. Maybe you will find them helpful.

Also, it’s my blog. I’ll do what I want. 😛

So those will go up sporadically throughout the rest of the month. Stay tuned.