Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012: Year in Review

2012 was an excellent writing year for me. Now, my goal is to make 2013 a year in which I do excellent writing. Ba-dum tsssccch. See what I did there?

My main writing achievement in 2012 was finishing The Curse of the Carberrys, which I'm happy with as first drafts go (translation for non-writers: I am not actively planning to enter the Witness Protection Programme now that some of my closest friends have read it).

I won Nanowrimo in spectacular fashion, writing 31,000 words in six days and earning both a dedicated congratulatory thread on our regional forum and a round of applause when I showed up for our end-of-Nano lunch. I have to point out that this achievement is of dubious character, since it was only made possible by falling really really far behind in the first place, and it made my fingers hurt.

I also finished my Nano novel, and it may be the worst thing I've ever written, including shopping lists and phone messages taken while my colleagues are having lunch. That said, I am fairly pleased with the ending (which reminds me of that old joke - your teeth are alright but your gums have to come out). I think the novel has some potential and I'm looking forward to going back and digging that potential out.

This isn't as quantifiable, but it's certainly important to me - I feel far closer to the point where I can start my pending YA project, One Other Person. I haven't written YA before, but I read a lot of it, so I'm both inspired and intimidated at the thought of stepping into one of my favourite genres. This year I have put a lot of thought into One Other Person and I'm dying to get started on it.

Aaaaand I finally figured out how to fix the fairies-in-Dublin novel I wrote for Nano 2010 - the one I usually just call Becky, after the main character, because no other name has stuck. It means a total rewrite from the bottom up. I am changing everything bar the characters - we will still have Becky, our slightly cynical fairy-hunter, Sammi, her skint journo flatmate, and even Scissors Gogarty, Sammi's source for crime features and an inadvertent fairy dupe, may make the final cut, but they will be encountering all sorts of menaces and secrets that weren't there in either of the first two drafts.

Thus, my writerly to-do list for 2013 looks like this:

1. Make list
2. Edit The Curse of the Carberrys
3. Write a query letter for The Curse of the Carberrys. Cry a lot. Re-write query letter. Cry some more. Eat cake.
4. Send off query letters.
5. Crap self.
6. Edit/rewrite The Soldiers of Bruges
7. Start (and hopefully finish) One Other Person
8. Ruin Becky Barrett's life. Again. Worse this time.
9. Finally learn to spell 'occasion' and 'necessary'. This is ridiculous, I am almost 29 years old.

Where are you guys on your writing journeys? I've been out of the loop in 2012 - please take this opportunity to share your woes and let me congratulate you on your awesomeness!

Oh yeah, and 10. Try to make 'awesomeness' a socially acceptable word for almost-29-year-olds to use.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where am I at? - A Catch-Up Post

This has been a sproadic year for blogging.

There are a few reasons for that. My day job has kept me busy and this year I attended four weddings, only one of which was in greater Dublin (they were all excellent) so there was a lot more travelling than usual. With one thing and another, I found myself very short on free time.

But I also got tired of blogging.

I started blogging in 2009 as an unpublished writer, and it's now almost 2013 and I'm still an unpublished writer.I haven't even started to query, because I haven't yet produced something that I feel is quite strong enough to query - although I'm really happy with the first draft of The Curse of the Carberrys and I'm hoping to query the edited version in the New Year.

So I'm OK with my ongoing unpublished status, but it is leaving me with very little to say here on the blog.

You guys all know about my tendancy towards fictional arson, my Nanowrimo evangelism, my love of Dorothy Parker. I've even told you about the Diffney quiz! I could keep posting about starting small fires, reaching 50,000 words or all the girls at the Yale Prom being laid end-to-end and Dorothy Parker's resultant lack of surprise, but you guys know how I feel about all of those things.

The other reason why I've been quiet lately is because I have been writing a lot. I know, shocking, huh? Too busy writing to update my writing blog :) I have a few works-in-progress at the moment and I'm looking forward to the Christmas break from my day job so I can get a decent run at a few of them.

That's where I am. I've missed the connections I've made through blogging, and I've missed checking in with all the fabulous bloggers I really like, but I am short on things to say. I am hoping that will change when I embark on my first ever querying journey - but I have to edit the book first! I got some great comments from my beta-readers (even if two of them disagree passionately on one point and I can't decide who to listen to!) and I'm excited to incorporate them and make my book better.

I'm also excited to take the next step and start putting my work out into the world in 2013. I hope to be popping up here and saying hi more often next year.

Happy holidays and a happy 2013 :D

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Finally Started A Small Fire!

It happened. This year in my Nanowrimo novel, I had three characters escape the enemy by starting a small fire. And I think it made sense in context too!

Regular readers may know that this has come up before - it's my go-to suggestion for getting out of tight spots and I finally got to use it.

A sense of achievement has settled upon me.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nanowrimo: I won, but only just

I became a Nanowrimo Municipal Liaison (local volunteer-type) in 2010 and I've won Nano ever year since. This year was the hardest yet.

To win Nanowrimo, you need to write an average of 1667 words per day. It's not like writing a shopping but it is a realistic and achievable target for a lot of writers.

But when you miss a few days, those 1667s start to add up super-fast.

I fell behind for a variety of reasons, some silly and some less so. I went away for a long weekend (Thursday to Sunday) and my flight was cancelled the day before we left (island living - yay!). So that had to be rearranged, time off work had to rearranged (I don't talk about my day job on the blog, deliberately, but I have to give my job a quick shout-out here for being as reasonable and accommodating as anyone could ask), and with one thing and another, I didn't write anything that day.

Then I was away for four days, and when I came back, I got some news that while it isn't actually bad, has the potential to maybe be bad at some point in the future, which distracted me quite badly for a few days.

With the result that I had over 30,000 words to write in less than a week.

My fellow participants were sympathetic. They said I wasn't allowed to have anything to eat at our celebratory lunch this week if I didn't make my target. I could read the menu (and we go to a really nice Japanese restaurant so this was a *mean* suggestion!) but I couldn't eat anything.

I would have liked to see them try to get between me and a California maki, even if they were armed with chopsticks.

Anyway, I managed to create time where previously none had existed.  I wrote on my lunch break instead of reading. I wrote whenever I had five minutes to spare. I wrote for an extra hour at night and slept less, and I cleared my schedule for a whole evening and wrote from I finished eating dinner until I went to bed.

And I finished. Last night at two minutes past six (just under six hours to the midnight deadline) I logged on to and validated my novel and won.

It was fun, it was exhilarating, it was challenging and I ended up with a book with large tracts of rubbish but an ending I really like.

And I hope to never put myself through that again!

Today I'm meeting the other participants and my co-ML for lunch. I can thank them for their lovely support on the forum - I got such nice comments when my word count started to climb. I can advise them to never fall behind like I did this year. I can commiserate with the people who didn't make it and congratulate everyone, whether they made it or not, for trying. We can share stories of awful plot holes and terrible instances of deus ex machina and cardboard characters and those rare, magical moments when something goes well instead of badly.

But most importantly, I can eat my noodles without having to defend my right to do so with chopsticks.

Happy December everyone!