Posted in For Fellow Writers, Words Upon Words

Less is More

Well, here I am after a whole summer of no blogging. In my last post (in May!!) I mentioned wanting to get better at blogging more frequently and proceeded to do…not that. However, I have realized time and time again that we can do nothing to fix how we have acted in the past…but we can attempt to do better in the future.

This month and last I have thought a lot about different posts I’ve been wanting to write up about a plethora of topics. And then there was a day when I wondered if my blog needed a more distinct focus. Looking over the collection of blog posts I’ve made over the past two years, I have written everything from an account of my summer adventures, book reviews, writing updates on current and future projects, NaNoWriMo, mission trips…the list goes on and on. The only recurring theme is my desire to follow the Lord’s lead in my daily life and to continue writing the stories that are constantly buzzing in my head. And I recently decided…that that’s okay. So, my blog is a little bit random in both the timing of its posts and its topics. My personality is kinda like that, too–I like and do a variety of things at a variety of times. Why don’t we just go with it? 🙂

What I want to focus on today is a phrase I’ve been dwelling on for a number of months. Pretty much ever since my aunt edited Everlasting with me two years ago. Any of you who have read my work recently know that I have a habit of being…a little wordy. The more I write, the longer my novels get…which is a natural process–but to an extent. The first book I ever finished was perhaps around 60 pages. My second was closer to 100. Bridget’s Journey was 200 pages once printed and so on.

When I finished writing Everlasting in 2014 (I believe) it was around 125,000 words long. Aunt Andrea helped me get it down to 120,000, but regardless, when printed, it is close to 350 pages. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. When I hold that thick book in my hands, do I feel a sense of accomplishment? As in, I wrote ALL of this? Yes, of course, I do! But is there a time and place for it? Another yes.

When reading through the red notes Aunt Andrea sent me for Everlasting, the phrase she repeated most often was: remember, less is more. I’m not sure I fully appreciated what she was trying to tell me until long after I had published Everlasting. I know not all writers are like me, but I personally get very attached to certain scenes and paragraphs. And when someone (who is obviously outside of my head) shakes their head and says… “that’s a little convoluted” or “I think you could say the same thing in half the amount of words”…I take it as an offense. Or I just don’t want to let go. “But I worked hard to put those sentences together!” I think. Or, “But isn’t that such a great sentence?” or “doesn’t it sound so good, though?” Maybe. Maybe it does. But is it necessary to tell my story? Not always.

Why is the phrase Aunt Andrea had to repeat to me over and over so important? I think the main reason is this: when I’m trying to tell a story with a certain set of characters going through a certain set of circumstances, in my attempt to tell my story in a beautiful, exciting or descriptive way, the true message or meaning of my story (in part or as a whole) can get lost. Lost in all those words. For example, when I was describing Azalea’s wings transformation or her farewell speech to her friends at Fairy Meadow, the true awe of those wings or the poignancy of her speech can lose its shine if I go on and on either about things that don’t matter or about something I’ve basically already said ten times over. If I take twelve okay sentences to say something that I can write in three to five, then are my readers really understanding the importance of the main message?

I am a visual person and I like to be mentally prepared for anything I come across. When I’m reading a book, I like to know exactly where my characters are, how old they are, what they look like, etc. Only then do I feel at peace and ready to go on whatever adventure lay ahead of them because I can picture them clearly in my mind. Hence, that desire leaks into my own writing. So, I over-write.

When I finished writing Bridget Returns almost exactly one year ago, it was 136,000 words. But as a sequel to a 50,000 word novel, I knew it didn’t need to be longer than Everlasting. So I went back and edited in January. Now, I’m editing again. I started several different subplots when first writing this novel, but many either didn’t come to a conclusion or the conclusion wasn’t very satisfying. How much better could Bridget Returns be if I spent my time solely focusing on a main three to five plots instead of having scattered attention over ten to twelve? That’s what I’m hoping to find out.

I hope I’m slowly (quickly??) learning to apply the concept of “Less is More” in my writing life and that the next time I edit a book with Aunt Andrea, I will be better able to accept her comments and be willing to see what my story could be instead of what I think I want it be. Because it can always be better.

The more talk, the less truth. The wise measure their words. Proverbs 10:19

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Posted in For Fellow Writers, Uncategorized

NaNoWriMo Day 17: Halfway Point

For those of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year–we’ve made it to the halfway point! There are now only thirteen days left to write the few thousand words you have remaining. For all the words you’ve written this month (whether it be a few thousand or even just a few hundred), good job! Every word counts and gets you closer to finishing that story that’s been sitting in your head for months or even years.

I’m currently sitting at 25,676 words. Only 25,000 more until I reach the goal.

November has been going by quickly, but it’s been an encouraging month so far. Having so many writing friends has really helped make this year’s NaNo so much fun. I’ve written with friends twice already and I’m headed to join my cousin Erin again this afternoon. My family has also been really supportive and asking me almost daily, “Have you written yet today?” I have found a lot more time to write this year than last year, even between life’s usual busy activities like work, babysitting and Sociology. I look forward to getting past that 40,000 I got stumped on last year and hitting that 50,000 again!

In our writing group on Facebook, a lot of inspirational images have been shared that I really wanted to pass along.

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I have been trying to take Endeavoring a little slowly simply because there are a few kinks I didn’t get around to hammering out last month. So far I’ve found a good balance between writing, allowing myself to explor my characters and find out who they are and how they react to certain situations, as well as stopping to ponder how something works or what this character’s motivation is.

It’s funny to think that I’m halfway to 50,000 words, yet I’m still finishing Part One of Endeavoring, which is essentially setting up the stage for the rest of the novel. I guess introducing all these characters and their backstories is going to be a little more complicated than I thought. 😉 That said, I can’t wait to reach Part Two and start Crystal and Zechariah’s relationship. They have yet to meet and I am still a little apprehensive as to how they will interact with one another. Only time will tell!

I’d like to end this blog post with a quote from my writing this week and some more inspirational quotes that will hopefully give you that extra boost you need to write those last few thousand words! 🙂

To Crystal, falling in love with a human was unthinkable. Yes, once upon a time, humans and fairies had been friends. But never had they intermarried. Never! It was unheard of—and for good reason. Humans and fairies shared little in common to begin with. To get married was like asking for the world as they knew it to end. Completely.

~Endeavoring

I’ll try to post my progress in NaNo again next week before the 30th!

Posted in NaNoWriMo, The Ponderings of Life

40,155 Words

Monday was the last day of NaNoWriMo.

I finished off with 40,155 words, 9,845 words short of 50,000.

In short, I did not  win NaNoWriMo.

No, this is not a pity party. I’m just being honest. My goal, like everyone else doing NaNo, was to reach 50,000 words in 30 days, just like I had done the past two years in a row. However, I did not get that far. All things considered, if I had to fall short, to fall short by 9,845 is not something to be ashamed of. I still wrote a lot, I was still really close!

This year was different than the past two years. One of the main reasons I didn’t have as much time to write as last year and the year before is because I started dual-enrolling at our community college this semester. Two college classes along with my other school subjects can actually add a lot of extra homework, especially in November when things are picking up! I kept telling myself at the beginning of November that it would be fine. “I’ll catch up, I’ll catch up. No worries. I’ll get there. I’ll make time, I’ll find time.”

In the end, though, I was faced with two choices every day. I can write, or I can do homework. I can write, or I can study. I can write, or I can watch a movie or episode with my family that I haven’t been able to spend time with all day because of school, college, church activities, etc. I can write, or I can’t. How do I balance what I really want to be doing, with what I perhaps should be doing more?

I would really rather WRITE. Always. But homework and studying and family time…those are all important, too. In fact, they’re ultimately MUCH more important than writing. This doesn’t mean I have to completely give up my writing. It just means that I can’t write every day. Or that some days I’ll only write about 800-1,000 words, when I know I could write 3,000 if I was given more time. It just means that I won’t always reach my personal writing goals that I set for myself–that I can change and adjust. It just means that writing doesn’t come first–but it doesn’t mean it comes last.

So?

So, I’ll be honest. When I first thought about writing this post, my plan was to tell you that I’m perfectly fine with not reaching 50,000 words this year. I thought it would be true by November 30. However, telling you that would be a lie. Because I’m still a little sad that I didn’t reach 50,000 words this year. I tried really hard and wrote as much as I could. So not reaching that goal is still somewhat disappointing. I look forward to this challenge all year. But again, that’s the nice thing about NaNoWriMo (as with many other things!): it always comes back next year.

But?

But I still wrote 40,155 words!!! That’s pretty cool.

I’ll reach 50,000 words. Maybe this weekend, maybe next weekend. Maybe next month. Who knows? But I’ll get there. Bit by bit, step by step.

Moral of the story? I learned a lot in November–more than just that Scrivener is just about the best writing tool EVER (which, it is). I began learning how to balance what I want to do with what I need to do. I learned that we don’t always reach our goals when we want to, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying our hardest and going as far as we can. I learned that life can be busy and crazy and very demanding. We just have to take it one step at a time.

To all you other aspiring NaNoers who may or may not have reached 50,000 words in November: Congratulations for WRITING something! Keep at it. Already looking forward to trying again with all of you next year!