Thursday, March 24, 2016

New Beginnings and Older Works

Somehow, my schedule has fallen apart.  January of 2015, I was the picture of organization, the reason I was able to produce a 140,000 word book in eight months.  This year, I'm losing it.  After an initial strong start with Darling, I've had a lot of road blocks, in my personal life and in my writing one.  Besides the soul searching of wondering if I should really be a writer, if this is really the right thing to be writing, and what on earth I'm going to do with a story that is far better than the writer writing it, I'm three months into my year without much book to show for it.

Queen of Time is riddled with problems, so many that I sometimes want to just scrap it and start over.  Wanting to finish Darling before embroiling myself in editing, I keep on pushing it to the back burner.  Today, on an impulse, I grabbed a chapter that has a lot of transitional, important material, and a notebook and started over with the chapter.  Different things happening, different questions being asked, different character development.  If it works out, I will continue.

It's amazing how much of my story hinges on King Uther's reaction to Gwen coming to Camelot.  For any who don't know, Gwen, through a series of events, ends up time traveling from the twenty-first century into Camelot.  This being the case, one of the first things I had to plot out was the reaction people would have.  First, I set up a history with the Crossers (she is not the first one) and the people of Camelot.  I made her what they viewed as the fulfillment of a prophesy, a YA cliche that is tired and old at the moment.  I'm hoping I can remedy that particular story line at some point.  Secondly, I had to picture how the people in Camelot who have been waiting for this fulfillment would view Gwen, a short bespectacled teen who doesn't seem to have a stitch of confidence and a whole lot of fear.  This reaction has morphed three different ways as I've disliked each one after fleshing it out over a few chapters.  My latest take (as of today), is the likelihood that if King Uther doesn't feel she is the one they are waiting for, he would likely not want his people to know who she was because of the Crosser's history of bad blood with the people of Camelot.  This means he would keep Gwen at the castle under outwardly false pretenses.  Gwen, being the girl who refuses to lie, would obviously have difficulty with this.  And thus, a different story than I had this morning is a born.  A lie she has to maintain, a life she is trying to get back to out of her strong sense of not wanting to change the past, and a possible link to someone she doesn't want to be linked with (spoilers!!!).

As I said though, King Uther's decision makes all the difference in the book.  If he forced her to try and go back through the Doorway, she would die.  If he gave her over to the people out of anger, she would die.  If he put her in prison, she would die.  If he sold her off as a slave to another kingdom, she would probably, well, die.

After the king, how Gwen reacts to what happens becomes just as important.  With some of the characteristics shown at the beginning of the book, she could be the kind of person who would just hide in her room and never come out.  Then, she wouldn't meet the people she meets, form the relationships she does, go through the life changing events that she does, and ultimately, bring about the things that bring the book to the climax.

The story is going to need work.  A lot of it.  And it might not pan out at all.  The good news is, I was able to put my story in a whole new perspective today which is not an easy thing.  I was able to write a questioning, logically deducting Gwen like I haven't written before, a shier girl than I'm used to but one who actually felt likable.

Hopefully, this means I can get back to my long overdue edits for Queen of Time.  I think it has the potential to be an awesome story.  I'm just going to have to become the writer to fulfill that potential.

Being the goal oriented person that I am, I came up with some goals of what I want for Queen of Time more than anything else, mostly things I haven't been able to accomplish to my satisfaction in other stories.

  • Gwen to be a very different heroine than I normally write but still likable and relate-able. 
  • The world building to feel rich and visible.  Being able to take readers to my picture of Camelot would be awesome!
  • Having a cast of different and believeable guys
  • Having good chemistry between my female and male main character
  • A complicated enough storyline to keep the reader guessing but not confused.

Seeing my goals here makes it sound like my book should be so easy.  Unfortunately, I am not good at writing anything on this list.  There's no good way for me to ease into it with a book of this caliber.  I'm just going to write, and rewrite until I'm done!

-Anna Leigh

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Avoiding Discouragment

It would be fun and story book like to say when I decided at eleven I wanted to be a writer, I never looked back.  That I charged forward, existing on a dream and honing my skills and crafts every day.

It would also be a lie.

The real story is a bit more boring but probably a lot more realistic.  For most of my life, writing has been a hobby, a dream for something far greater than I thought I'd ever achieve.  Maybe, maybe, someday when I'm old, I'll have a book published.

Somehow, my hobby started to move in a different direction when I was seventeen.  It started to be much more a part of my everyday life.  I started to care about being disciplined and about doing it right.  At eighteen, I found the online writing community and started to think "Maybe this is what I should be doing."

I've hit a few bumps in the road.  Busy schedules, writer's block, my story being so big of a mess, I just wanted to delete the whole thing and sell my computer.  Even so, it's never been too discouraging to me.  I would always put my book on hold until I felt ready to get back to it again.

In the last year and a half, I've had a strict writing regimen.  Writing gets done six days a week, sometimes seven if I feel awake enough Saturday night to work on it.  A thousand words a day is my normal minimum and I hold myself to it, whether I'm sick or busy or tired.  I posted on my blog about doing NaNoWriMo and I charged straight into it, finding that the fight to get to 50,000 words was nothing like it'd been the first time I did it when I barely wrote 500 words a day or had finished a book in eight months.  After NaNo, I stepped it down a bit, thinking a break would be good for me.

A week passed.  The holidays passed.  Another week passed.  I didn't want to sit down with my computer.  I didn't want to read a book because it would make me feel guilty about writing.  Even looking at the document for my book made me feel nervous.

I didn't want to write.

I haven't felt that feeling in a long time and it scared me.  A lot.  Writing has been a part of me my entire adult life and a decent portion of my pre-adult too.  I started thinking about my age, the fact I'm about to turn twenty-one and now would be a good time for a career change, a good time to learn something new.

I felt horrible and stressed for days.  Then, I was doing my bible study lesson for the week and I read something really important.  I read about how discouragement comes from Satan.  It reminded me that Satan is an accuser as well as the adversary who's main goal is to destroy my happiness, my peace, and my commitment to God.  It also reminded me to go to God in prayer for His protection.  Satan is strong but we know that he is defeated already.

I'd been letting my peace and joy be destroyed by self-doubt that didn't even make sense.  Yeah, I'm not the best writer ever and yeah, my books need a lot of work, but I can do it.  I prayed about it and for the last few weeks I've been able to write again.  I'm not back to 1,000 words a day yet but I'm doing 800 and I'm getting warmed up again.

I've crossed the 70,000 word threshold at this point with my book and I'm about to start a key chain of events leading to the middle conflict, which will set off a chain of events leading to the end.  So close and yet, so much more to go!

I sent the prologue to my critique group this week.  I kind of threw it onto paper when I was writing because I couldn't get the beginning right and I wanted to write an action opening.  I threw my main character into the middle of a situation and then spent the next several days trying to write the first few chapters to get her there in the first place.  Guess we'll see how it turns out!

- Anna Leigh

P.S. Happy New Year, by the way.  I was skimming through my posts and realized I haven't written since November.  Like I said above, it's been a rough few months but that's behind me now!