where i’ve been (a not-so-quick writing update).

So, you may have been wondering where I’ve been the last month and a half. Let me tell you, it’s been a whirlwind. Since my last post, which was on October 13th, I had originally planned to write again on November 3rd. However, on the day of Halloween, I had a sudden stroke of inspiration to participate in my second National Novel Writing Month, which started the next day, and use it to make some significant progress. So I decided, instead of writing anything in this particular space during November or revising my short story, I would save my writing time, creative energy, and word count to build toward my novel.

And that I did! Now, I certainly didn’t write the normal 50,000 words, but that wasn’t my goal. My original goal was to write 19,500 new words, effectively doubling the word count I already had.

Well, I didn’t get there, either. In fact, when I total up my current word count, I actually have fewer words than I had before I started.

But that’s okay.

Because what I do have are scenes that are coherent. Scenes that make sense with one another and achieve their narrative goals. Scenes that I feel proud of (at least, for first drafts). These scenes will have positive ripple effects on the story my novel is telling as a whole–already I understand my characters better and have amended a couple of egregious plot holes.

I also have developed a habit of writing this past month. The routine feels pleasurable, steadying. And what’s better is that even if I do miss a day of that routine, I don’t feel the shame that prevents me from stepping back in the day after that.

Finally, I am not burned out like I was after the last time I did NaNoWriMo back in 2017. It’s such a relief to still want to write.

Those are the large-scale things I accomplished, but I also completed a lot of smaller, more specific novel-related tasks during NaNoWriMo:

  • Renamed my main character from Moira to Maura (rolls off the tongue and is more Irish, where Moira is actually a Scottish name)
  • Finished rewriting that key scene from Maura’s childhood, finally
  • Got rid of a bunch of old content that no longer made sense for the story
  • Rewrote a better version of my opening scene
  • Finished and then rewrote a better version of Maura’s big “a-ha!” emotional resolution moment
  • Answered a bazillion questions about my character, her goals, and how she develops over time–recorded all the answers in Scrivener so I can reference them as I write
  • Filled in character sheets so I can keep little details like eye color consistent, but also big things like their deepest fears and motivations
  • Wrote another brief overview of the novel
  • Reorganized folders on Scrivener
  • Completed three scene cards and started five more
  • Created a list of story ideas that may come into play later

And that’s not all: during the course of the month, I also met three lovely writing friends. One was a fellow Austinite and Northwestern alum–we got together in person earlier in the month over drinks and kolaches and talked writing, publishing, and life. The other two were fellow NaNoWriMo participants who, like me, happened to be writing about Ireland or Irish people–one lives in Pennsylvania, and the other lives in the Shetland Islands north of Scotland. And yesterday, on the last day of the month, we got to see each other’s faces for the first time at a Zoom happy hour together! Looking forward to keeping these writerly friendships going strong.

Now, after such a productive month, you may be wondering what’s next on my plate. And I certainly have plans, some more concrete than others:

  • Continue creating and developing scene cards for the novel, while simultaneously writing those scenes
  • Write two new entries for this site before the end of 2020
  • Complete revisions on my short story by the end of December and start submitting it next month
  • In January, start a virtual writing class on craft led by one of my former and favorite Northwestern writing professors

That’s all I have for now, but I’ll be back soon–really.

Current Novel Word Count: 16,690. This is the number of words I've written
that have made it past round one of deletion. So far.  
What I'm Writing: So. Much. Novel scene cards is probably my next step.
Weird Writerly Topics I've Googled This Week: (I haven't done this in a long
time, so I'll send you highlights of the last month.) Irish ambulance, bean
nighe, can catholics confess to nuns or do they confess to priests, is
confession to a catholic priest necessary or can you go straight to god,
venial vs. mortal sins, benedictine nuns Ireland, important academic books
on botany, what happens if a lawyer can't locate the beneficiary of a will,
why would someone keep assets in a trust until the beneficiary was 35, 
what does an iphone say when an international number calls
Writing Exercises I've Done: Nothing lately.
What I'm Reading: I realized I'm trying to read too many non-fiction things 
at once, and it's hurting my brain, so I've put down Kendi's book for now 
and am focusing on finishing Native by Kaitlin Curtice. For fiction, I'm
reading The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende.
What I'm Listening To: Poetry Unbound--a podcast hosted by Pádraig 
Ó Tuama. Also, lots of Advent music. "Wait for the Lord" by the Taizé 
Singers and "O Come O Come Emmanuel" by Penny & Sparrow are two of 
my current faves.

2 Replies to “where i’ve been (a not-so-quick writing update).”

  1. i absolutely love reading these updates. i feel like ppl can either be super clinical or super dramatic and artsy fartsy when talking about writing as a craft. im loving hearing about your process/progress in a real way 💕 keep going!!

    Liked by 1 person

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