Well, that was a lovely hiatus, but I figured I’d come back 😉 It’s been four months, after all!
It was such a beautiful morning when I started writing this post, I had to wander into my yard and take some photos of daffodils glowing in the early, rising sun. It so beautifully represented a fresh start to an exciting new year, hence the flower picture for this post’s header.
A lot has happened during my hiatus, even in the past few days (some good, some frustrating) but I’m happy to report that despite various time sucks and fluctuating motivation, my writing hiatus was very successful! Regardless of what I completed vs. what I intended to complete, I feel very productive. Accordingly, plans going forward look a little different than I originally expected, but isn’t that always the way it works?
So here’s what happened as I tried to fulfill my little hiatus checklist, followed by my plans for what comes next.
It was such a fun challenge to write a bunch of short stories during NaNoWriMo, and excitedly nerve-wracking to submit my first polished short story to The Writer’s Digest Short Short Story competition. In anticipation I waited, honestly hoping for the best but not expecting much, and on March 1st, I received this email:
Greetings and thank you once again for competing in The Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. As a courtesy, we wanted to inform you that after much difficult decision making (there were over 6,700 entries), [judging has wrapped up. We’ve now been in touch with all winners; they were notified separately by our editors directly. Once again, our judges were impressed by the quality of writing that was put before them.]
Sure, that’s frustrating, but the submission process is exactly that: a process. One of my writing resolutions for this year is to work hard to press past discouragement in the area of submitting my work.
Ah well, seems I didn’t win the #writersdigest Short Short Story Competition, but that means I got my first anthology rejection letter!
— Call Me Christina (@puelladocta) March 3, 2016
Speaking of submissions, my plans to work on my query letter were blown out of the water once I started my novel rewrite. Of course I plan to come back to my query letter, but not for a few more months.
As I started editing Chapter 3 during my rewrite, I suddenly had an epiphany: I was on Draft 6 of this novel, and there were huge gaps that felt too confusing and daunting to fill without a lot more work. I wanted (still do) to write the best book I possibly could, but I realized I didn’t have much of a toolbox to help me tease out what that really was. If I wanted to actually get this book done well, I knew needed to do it right.
So immediately I scoured the internet for articles on outlining your book, and after looking over a myriad of tips for direction, I ended up buying K.M. Weiland‘s “Outlining Your Novel Workbook,” followed by “Outlining Your Novel” and “Structuring Your Novel.” I’m also reading “Writing the Fiction Series” by Karen S. Wiesner, and I want to start “Write Your Novel From the Middle” by James Scott Bell. Anything that can make this exhaustive and detailed editing process a little more structured is much appreciated.
I entreat you writers out there to check out the K.M. Weiland writing books (and K.M’s site Helping Writers Become Authors), because they are amazing and have literally given me the road map to finding my story. I already knew structure and outlining were important to writing fiction, but I hadn’t found anything that really gave me a checklist and practical method to make sure I was using them effectively. That was exactly what I needed, and now I have some more powerful tools in my writing box!
I’m so glad I took this hiatus from job hunting, blogging and other distracting things to actually focus on writing. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have realized what needed to be done.
So this is where I am, reading writer’s help books on outlining and structure and following the steps, trying to make my novel–and its series–better and better, and cover more ground faster. I’m hoping once I finish outlining and rewriting, my book will finally be really and truly ready to show to agents. I still need to prepare my novel for my editor to look over, which will take longer than I first anticipated. So my new, hopefully more realistic goal is to be finished by the end of spring/start of summer.
Of course, I know I’ll be sharing my time with other exciting opportunities and life stuff, and my bones can already feel the weight of the long road of work ahead. But when I’m creating my world, it’s almost like a drug. It’s very hard to explain, but despite how hard it is, my mind and body and soul are aligned to writing. It’s like a compass, always pointing North; my instinctive inclination is always writing, always telling stories, no matter what. It’s still hard, and I take breaks when I need to, and I HAVE to keep remembering to not be too hard on myself for feeling overwhelmed by shortcomings or fears. (Something I have to fight to win every day, and this blog post by author Kristin Cashore really encouraged me.)
But I’m strangely at peace about it all, deep down. It was the right time to start again, and in this moment, there’s truly nothing I’d rather be doing with my life <3
Hope all your creative projects in the new year are treating you well, my friends!
Talk to you soon!