119 – February 10, 2014

It seemed impossible or at least very improbable for me to hit 50,000 words in January. Not once in the entire month I was on track. I still managed to hit the goal by churning out 3k on the last evening – after studying for two weeks, sitting two exams and visiting one talk by a famous historian that day. Everything is possible if you commit yourself to it!

Only 33,284 of those words went to Albino though. The other 16,853 were short stories, essays and other words I scraped together during particularly bad days when I needed to write something. Parts are interesting, others aren’t, it doesn’t really matter now.

In February, I continued adding 300-500 words to Albino every day except yesterday. The slower pace has been great for enjoying the story without exhausting myself. That novel is up to 37k now and I hope to finish within the next two days.

After that? No plans. Revising Crow City will be necessary, but I don’t even know where to start. I’ll probably write a few short stories and flesh out the ideas of the last few days. Magical realism is calling to me again… I think surrealism is just the right thing after Albino which was a realistic romance.

118 – January 24, 2014

Things happened. December slipped by quietly and January hit me in the face. I’ve had too much to do to even think about anything other than uni and writing. Of course, a significant amount of time was dedicated to JanNoWriMo. I vowed to write the first draft of Albino, a novel idea that’s been on my mind for a year, but never got written properly. This time I followed the outline I prepared in December. As of now, I’m up to 25,867 words in that story.

It’s not the only thing I wrote though. I also started three short stories, finished one and wrote two essays on the nature of my writing and my qualities of adapting to others like a chameleon. All in all, I wrote 8,776 words on things other than Albino.

This means I’m at 34,643 for January and the year so far. I fell behind due to uni, work and socializing, but I’m determined to hit 50,000 words by the 31st – the perfect way to start 2014! It doesn’t matter what I write as long as I accumulate enough words. In fact I’ve been thinking about what to write and how to do it since yesterday. That day my creative writing class ended. While I really enjoyed it, I also realized how much I’ve yet to learn. It’s a challenge and I’m in the spirit, so I’ll do my best and work even harder from now on. This is what I want to earn a living with, after all! It should also be what I put the most time and effort in.

There have been a few interesting ideas these days, but I think I’ll focus on finishing Albino and, after that, Kobold. That’ll happen in February, I think. Afterwards, I might edit Crow City or I might work on a new story.

117 – December 1 – A Star-Spangled Vacuum

“Writing is prayer.”
(Franz Kafka)

Another November is over, another NaNoWriMo won. I hit 50k by writing 4,765 words on the last day. Kobold isn't finished, but I need a break from the story. There are just too many things on my list that have been left untouched for too long.

During the last few days a strange realization came to me: I preferred writing large chunks rather than consistently hitting 1.7k every day. There's a point, probably around 2-2.5k, when the words flow faster and faster. The more I write, the easier it gets. It seems like that marks a significant threshold. After that I stop thinking and the story grows in leaps and bounds. I'm not sure what to make of it, but it's certainly an interesting observation.

I also started complaining about the story, although once I typed the next words it was as exciting as ever. Those complaints were born from logic and reason (precisely, comparison to my last JulNo novel, Red Pigeons), but the excitement of creating can't be controlled. This year, I had absolutely no problem churning words out like mad. Who knows what would've happened to my word count if I had had more time!

My last goal for this year is to finish Kobold. After that, it's WriYe 2014! I already signed up for 250,000 words which is 50k more than last year. Since I managed about 230k this year though, I'm sure I can do it. I also want to edit more – there are a ton of unedited first drafts sleeping on my hard drive. I better get them in shape if I want to keep submitting to publishers!

116 – November 24 – In The Works Under Starlight

“Tell me silver moon
what do you expect to do
with a kid of skin?”
(Mecano, Hijo de la Luna)

If I hadn't written it down black on white, I wouldn't believe it. Yesterday I wrote 5,066 words. Today I wrote 5,151 words. This means my word count for this month so far is 40,679 words. I can't remember ever doing two 5k days in a row before – an entire 10k weekend!

The most amazing thing is that writing all those words wasn't tedious or exhausting at all. They just started flowing whenever I put my fingers on the keyboard. The characters were running around, cursing, despairing, loving and hating each other in equal parts. I felt like I didn't know my plot well enough, but apparently I have a good grasp on it. There was no need to stop and plot out the next scenes at all. On the contrary, I went through a few emotional scenes that were a ton of fun to write! This is the time where Puck will either break or swear loyalty to the one man that enslaved him at the beginning. Naturally, that's an intense part. I could write even more today, but I don't want to burn out.

Word wars were a great help too. I set up my headquarters in the 15 minute word wars thread on the NaNo forums and tried to increase my typing speed over the last few days. It's like a fun game with the nice side effect of gaining words … and it's showing results! Usually I get 400 to 500 words in that time span, but today I managed 681 words! Admittedly, my writing style is more long-winded this time, but I'm still happy!

Lastly, I greatly enjoyed watching the words invent themselves, the story unfold on the page. It's thanks to NaNoWriMo that I first experienced and got addicted to that feeling. I'm looking forward to how the rest of Kobold will turn out.

115 – November 15 – Halfway Point Hotel

It's day 15 of NaNoWriMo and I'm still behind. It's already my worst NaNo since I joined in 2009, but let's focus on the good parts instead, no?

My strongest days so far were the 9th and 10th when I wrote 2,234 and 2,460 words respectively. That weekend I spent at home and at a write-in. Also, I wrote 2,539 words today through repeated 15-minute word wars, hitting 17k in the process. Although the result is crap, nothing's better to get some fast words! If I write 2k or more each day, I'll catch up before long. That's my strategy for the rest of the month.

For the last two weeks, the biggest distraction was my boyfriend. However, I've declared that writing time is necessary and I make sure it is really spent writing (even if he's watching). I also spent too much time socializing, sitting in the kitchen with fellow dorm residents. While it's fun, I want to cut back on that and dedicate more evenings to writing. Since I've two exams next week, I'll have no choice but to study during the day, so the evenings are all I've left.

As for the story itself, it's going smoothly. Recently – by which I mean for the last few months – I felt like my writing is growing stale, like there was no development in skill anymore. However, I've noticed something funny during the last writing sessions: The faster I write and the less I think, the better and more colorful the writing turns out. You'd expect it to be the other way round, no?

Anyway, I do think the creative writing course I'm taking this semester is helping the process. At first I wasn't sure if it was the right thing for me, but now I'm sure it was a good idea after all.

114 – November 4 – Incense and Word Flooding

Contrary to what I said in October, I went out on Halloween after all and stumbled through the days after in a mixture of tired drowsiness and bizarre bliss I'd rather not elaborate on. Suffice to say, I fell behind from day one due to various reasons.

So I wrote 1.7k on the 2nd and 2k today, bringing my total up to 3,766 words. Part of the reason why I'm behind was that I didn't prepare as thoroughly as I'd have liked to. Today, I sat and wrote down the five to six major plot points for Kobold though. I'm not satisfied with the end (neither of the two options I came up with), but it provides me with directions I can follow. I feel much more comfortable writing according to a vague plan than I do jumping into the cold water with no prep whatsoever. In that regard, I'm not a pantser, but I also don't follow an outline, so I'm not a planner. If anything, I'm gravitating towards planning. In July, I picked up the habit of jotting down the key points of each scene before writing it out and I want to continue with that. It helps me write faster since I already know where the scene is going.

The plot's another problem altogether, but I'm not too worried about that. Usually, the characters dictate the specifics. If they fill the bits I didn't have any ideas for yet, I'm happy.

Right now I'm focusing on catching up, writing a little more than the standard goal every day, while keeping up with everything else. Time is on my side – I only need the willpower to avoid procrastination.

113 – October 30 – Hear the Drums

“Darksome Night and Shining Moon,
East and South and West and North,
Hearken to the Witches' Rune;
Hear me now, I call thee forth.”
(Doreen Valiente)

It's almost November! At this time of the year, I'm not thinking of Halloween like others, but looking forward to NaNoWriMo! This year I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to write as university is less busy than expected. Despite that, there's still a ton of things on my to do list!

Preparation has included research, character development and bits of backstory so far. I still want to research more and plan the major plot points though. This year the overarching theme is paganism, mainly Wicca. As a teenager, I was interested in its practices and mythology, but didn't really get far. The novel is a great opportunity to work with Wicca again – it's fascinating! The story is about Puck, a poor student who circles through friends' apartments and eventually ends up with Nathaniel, a Wicca. That man binds Puck with trickery and a spell, thus gaining command over a gnome, or earth spirit, in human form. While he strives to bind all elemental spirits, Puck works for his cousins' freedom.

Once again I'm working within parameters of magical realism, not fantasy. I don't really do the latter. Instead this novel will explore faith and willpower. If you believe in spells while working them, isn't that enough for them to come true? Happenings won't be explained. I'm not sure whether it'll work, but I'll only find out if I try.

My schedule is rather full tomorrow, but who needs Halloween? I'll probably sit in the kitchen or my room, drinking away the hours until midnight, then disappear to write in solitude.
#red pigeons

112 – October 8 – Quicksands of Time

“Believe that time is always forever
And I'll always be here
Believe it till the end.”

The revolution has crashed and burned and so does my little heart.

In other words, Red Pigeons is finished. I've been adding a few hundred words every day over the last week. Yesterday I wrote over 3k and added the last few words today, ending it on a tone of serenity and hope. This novel is finished at 65,333 words which is on the upper end of what I expected it to be. I'm sad. Yesterday I was so sad, having to leave the characters with their failed revolution. Maybe I'll pick it up again and write a sequel, but now isn't the right time.

It occurred to me that the last time I finished a novel (towards the end of last year), I felt sad too. So that seems to be my tone and flavor of finishing something. There is a hole where that story was and I want to fill it, but since there's no new story yet, I set to gathering inspiration instead.

On the upside, I got an email from Random House the other day. Yes, the Random House. It just said they had gotten my manuscript and will notify me in 12 weeks if they like it. Still, I'm honored and excited they take the time to send out a confirmation email. I also contacted two other publishers. Even if it amounts to nothing, I'll keep sending out envelopes because it means my Crow City is going somewhere. That journey isn't over yet, it's only just beginning.
#red pigeons

111 – September 30 – Corner Culture

“We fall, we fall in love with strangers killing time.
We fall, we fall in love with strangers in the night.
(William Control)

I'm still working on Red Pigeons, or rather, I recently returned to it. The holidays are over tomorrow, so since life has officially returned, I'm motivated to get the writing straight too. I want to finish this novel before November and still have some time to plot what I want to write for NaNoWriMo. Over the last few days I've been mulling over an idea that came out of the blue and is my best candidate for it.

Red Pigeons' nearly over. After finishing the sub plot, the characters will return to Vienna for the climax. There are only a few scenes left to write, then I can top it off with 'The End' and forget about it for a few months. I did and I do enjoy writing this novel, but I also want to move on. During the last few days I noticed how much I've changed over the summer or even the last twelve months. I'm not the person I was last year and that is a good thing. Naturally, I want my writing to reflect that change. There are new themes, settings and characters to explore – and I can't wait to get a taste of them all.

After finishing Red Pigeons, I'll plot my NaNo candidate which is tentatively titled Homo Vitus. Its central question will be where to draw the line between living and merely existing like a vegetable, in other words, what it means to be alive in a metaphorical sense. People can live and still be dead inside. I want to work with that.

I also registered for one lecture at the Creative Writing institute of the local arts university. As far as I can tell, we'll look at an abridged history of the novel and analyze a few novels to get a feel for how they portray human experiences and biographies. That's not what I expected, but I'm still excited for it and hope to learn a few things to incorporate into my writing.