Has anyone ever created characters that you just can’t let go?

My first year of NaNo was my first foray into novel-length writing. I came up with to lead characters, strong-willed, emotional Luciana, and reserved, level-headed Delaney, the main characters of my novel Curse of Ancient. They started out with relatively set personalities that didn’t change much throughout the story. I finished the novel, and beat the 50,000 word count goal. I liked the story. I liked the ending. And for me? That’s saying a lot.

Two months later, when I was beginning the editing process, a virus made my way into my old laptop. Everything had to be wiped. I had been able to print out probably about 80% of my novel, but I lost my ending. To say it was discouraging is a bit of an understatement. So I put the novel aside. I started on a different novel that November, and beat the goal, but never finished the story. I loved the characters I had created, but it just didn’t feel the same.

So I started editing a few of the chapters of Curse of Ancient. Just a few pages at a time, and it reminded me how much I loved those characters.

That’s the way it’s gone for the past two years. I’ll put the novel aside, work on a different project, but I’ll always come back to Luciana and Delaney. When I got stuck on last year’s NaNo, I pretty much scrapped the entire story and went back to writing shorts about my two other characters. And by this point, they had changed. They’re still the same characters, but so much better. There’s depth to their personalities now.

Even when I’m still working on other projects, I still love these characters so much.

I’m so glad that I didn’t just forget about these characters. I don’t know that I’ll ever go back and rewrite the end to their original story, but I’m certainly not done writing with them. Rediscovering these characters and how great they are has been one of my favorite parts of writing so far. It makes me curious if anyone has ever had a similar experience with characters that they’ve written? Are there characters that you just can’t seem to let go of?

Cheers!

Chelsea

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NaNo2016 Recap

So…

Nano did not go well for me this year. I continued working on one of my projects that I’ve been working on for a while now. I really enjoy working on the story, but I did not enjoy Nano this year.

That’s a tough admission for someone who has always loved writing, and, if I can say so, has always been pretty good at writing well in the face of a tough deadline.

It wasn’t fun, though. I’ve been working on the same plot that I started a few years back, and, though I still love the story and the characters, I just couldn’t make myself write anything most days. It took me until about half way in to figure out what was wrong.

I was forcing myself to write. I was forcing myself to do something, setting, honestly, unreachable goals for myself, and becoming more and more unhappy when I couldn’t meet those goals. Writing my story became just about as enjoyable as writing a twelve-page paper for a class that I hated.

At least I had to do the paper.

I started to dread the thought of coming home at the end of a (12 hour) day and trying to bang out almost 2,000 words every day. I started to resent my story and question everything that I had done up to that point. It got to the point that I considered scrapping the entire damn thing.

 To put that into perspective, this story is currently sitting at right around 97,000 words and about 300 pages in MS word. There are pages of back story work. There is a whole religious system, weather patterns, and season/crop cycles. I was working on a calendar!

And I got so frustrated that I nearly scrapped the entire thing.

But, thank God, I finally realized what I was doing. I was so focused on that magic number, on getting 50,000 words, that I forgot the entire point of NaNo, the entire point of writing for me.

To do something that I enjoy.

I write because I enjoy it and because I do it well.

That’s… not what NaNo felt like this year.

But, once I stopped focusing on my word count and started writing, just to write and not to meet a goal, I was so much happier again. Once I wasn’t thinking about how many words I was writing in a day, I was actually enjoying the words that I was writing again, however many there were, and that’s what matters to me. I want to finish this story, but I want to enjoy doing it.

I’ve been working on my story off and on again, regularly, since NaNo ended last year, and while I haven’t done as much writing, I’ve gotten a lot of other work done on it. And I’ve had fun doing it.

So, while I’ll probably do NaNo again this year, after 8 years, it’s become as much of a habit as anything, I’m not going to push myself as hard as I did this year. The point of NaNo is to have fun and write a story, not try so hard to meet a goal that you make yourself miserable in the process.

Finally, here’s genuine congratulations to everyone who met their goal with NaNo16, whether it was getting down 50,000 words, or just making sure that you managed to write a few words every day. You did awesome, and you should be proud. Everyone who simply took on the challenge should be proud.

Keep writing and have fun.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

I’m Still Here!

So, I am still around.

These past few months, I didn’t have a lot of time for posting, and when I did have the time, I really, really didn’t have the energy to do so. This semester was extremely stressful, and I had two of the most hateful professors that I’ve ever encountered. Honestly, this was the first semester I’ve ever had nightmares about a class. I have another month before I start summer classes, so I’m trying to catch up on a few things that I put off, and hopefully blogging will be one of those.

Unfortunately, the stress of this semester makes be question this fall’s plans. Specifically, I’m not sure about being able to do NaNo this November. I’ll be a senior this year, and I have six classes, three of which are level 400s, and a fourth is a field work/research class which, as the name implies, includes field work along with a lecture portion. All of them are major classes, too, so they’re all classes I care about. I’m also applying to Grad School and getting ready for the GRE. I’ll also still be working part-time. That’s a lot to keep up with, and nano might have to take a backseat. Keeping my GPA up and getting into UT’s Masters program will definitely be my first priority, natch.

The idea of not doing Nano hurts, I have to admit. I’ve participated for seven years this year, and after coming so close last year (41,000 words), I’d really like to come in with a win. I also have so much that I’d still like to do with Witch Queen and Ashes, plus I have other ideas that have been sitting on the back burner for years, now. I just don’t know if it’ll be possible.

I would compensate by doing the July CampNano, but that summer class I mentioned starts on July 6, and is what’s called an “Intensive” course. It’s a semester’s worth of work in four weeks. Yeah. Probably not going to be getting much writing done with a French exam every five days.

However I decide, though, I still have a while . I’m going to spend some time writing on Witch Queen, and editing the crap out of Ashes, since I’ve decided that there are parts of it that I really don’t like. Once August rolls around and I settle into classes, I’ll make a decision whether or not I feel up to participating.

Either way, I’m still cheering everyone on! Good luck to anyone participating in CampNano next month, and, since I know I’m not the only one already thinking about November, happy planning and outlining!

Cheers!

Mayuuya

An Article on Blogging as Therapy

Okay, so very rarely do I post a blog two days in a row, but I felt that this one is worth sharing. I think its important to understand that writing (creatively, blogging, etc.) can be used for a lot of different things.

I actually ran across this article sometime immediately after it was published, and actually did a review on it for a childhood education class. I lost track of it, mainly since I hadn’t started this blog yet. I ran across it last night while I was working on article reviews for a current psych class. The article originally appeared in Monitor on Psychology, which is released by the APA, and the link goes to the article on the APA’s website. (the link to the article is at the bottom of the post)

I’ve personally always loved the idea of using writing in conjunction with more “traditional” therapy. In fact, it’s one of my goals in working towards my higher level degrees. I think there’s so much that can be done with writing therapy, and there’s a growing body of research that supports that idea. As the article says, psychologists have been encouraging the use of journals and writing for years.

And so blogging just seems to be the natural extension of that.

How many of us are online at least once a day? And how easy do sites like wordpress (and various other, not so great) sites make it easy to maintain, not just one, but blogs on as many subjects as you like? For me, it just seems to make sense. Yes, i know that there are hateful people on the internet, but there are also so many kind people who want to encourage others, whether it’s about writing, crafting, mental health, education, whatever.

As far as blogging about mental health, I think the article does a good job in pointing out that one of the biggest benefits to such a blog is the sense of community it can create. It can create that feeling of ‘No, I’m NOT alone in this,’ and that alone is so critical for anyone facing something challenging, whether it’s mentally, physically, or emotionally.

And like I said, I know that there are hateful people on the internet, and the author of the article knows that, too. Comments can be hurtful, but most, if not all, sites allow you the option to screen comments before they’re posted. You can also turn off anonymous comments, which will often cut down on a lot of the hate and troll like behaviour.

And at the end of the day, if there’s one negative comment compared to ten or twenty positive, supportive ones, well, maybe that’s an acceptable trade off. One person being an arrogant jackass isn’t the end of the world, though I realize that the comment can still sting, nonetheless, and I’m not dismissing that. ‘Sticks and stones my break your bones, but words can sometimes kill you,’ after all.

But there’s always the option of turning off the comments, if you’re truly concerned they might be an issue. The research points out that just putting the words out there on the blog is still beneficial.

http://apa.org/monitor/2014/06/blogging.aspx

Oh, and the quote comes from The Lucifer Effect, by Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, the experimenter behind the Stanford Prison Experiment.I encourage you to google it (the experiment itself) if you’re not familiar with it. Just don’t use google images.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

Update for the end of January

January is coming to a close, and Witch Queen is currently sitting right at 25,000 words, and about 83 pages (with a standard letter sized orientation. The more accurate 6×9 orientation is just under 130 pages), and almost seven chapters.

"read mode" screenshot, with the layout/style for "Witch Queen"

“read mode” screenshot, with the layout/style for “Witch Queen”

I haven’t worked on it as consistently as I’d like to be able to say that I have, but I haven’t tossed it aside, either, which is an accomplishment. I really can’t stress how much having an outline has helped in making sure that this work doesn’t just die.

I’ve got some free time tomorrow morning, with nothing better to do, so I’m hoping I can get more done then. I do intend to post sections of it, but they have to be edited to my standards before I do so. I print out the work as I go, so that I can go back and edit it as I work. I make the edits on the physical paper, then go in and make the changes. Once I’ve done the sections that I want, I’ll post them.

Maybe tomorrow. Maybe.

The Current Projects page now has most of the details for the Witch Queen. I may add Ashes to it eventually, but I don’t know. February is coming up quickly, and, for me, that means a paper on Antigone is going to be due soon. I have a feeling that I’m going to be lucky to continue working on Witch Queen, never mind adding anything else into the mix.

It’s kind of funny, really. Witch Queen was the one story that I really never thought that I would continue, and now it’s the one that really just won’t go away. I’ve actually become rather fond of it.

We’ll see what February brings.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

Witch Queen Cover Image

So, since the last post, I’ve spent a lot of time working on Witch Queen. I’ve actually added just around 9000 words (roughly 27 pages) to it, and I’m fairly happy with it thus far. It’s really my goal to have this finished, at least by the end of NaNo this year. I might actually make finishing it my NaNo goal, instead of working on something totally new this time.

I really, really don’t need to start any new stories.

Anyway, that’s kept me quite busy. 9000 words in a week is by far not a record for me by any means, but it’s still more than I’ve written on a daily basis since November. Following an already finished outline helps.

Last night though, I spent some time on Createspace, which is who I intend to use to create the book, since it’s usually who I see recommended on the Nano forums, and they’re the ones who offer the proof copy if you meet the goal of 50000 words.

The Witch Queen's War Cover

The Witch Queen’s War Cover

I’d already spent a little bit of time on their site sometime back, but I really spent some time working on it last night. I’ve got a potential cover up and going, which is over on the right of the page. It’s also kind of one of the main points of the post, since I’m actually rather pleased with the way it’s come out so far. It’ll have to be edited a bit to allow for the spine width, but that won’t be possible until I’m finished writing and have a total page count. So it’ll change, but I’m going to stick with this overall design. I really do like it, actually.

The image definitely has to be opened for the summary on the back to be clear. I had to edit it a little bit, since it was a little bit to long, and not very legible.

Again, there’s my problem with summarizing.

The image on the front is a manipulate photo, courtesy of one of my aunts, from one of her trips to Ireland.

I’ve created a new page up in the header that’ll be used for the projects that I’m currently working on, and once I have that set up a little better, I’ll definitely add a larger version of the cover to that. Hopefully, that page will also help get rid of some of the clutter over in my sidebar, maybe. We’ll see.

I also might start posting a few excerpts from this one. I think I may have posted some way back when I first started this blog, but I can’t remember. If I did, anything that gets posted now will be a highly edited version.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

They Just Won’t Go Away

Originally posted on September 24th, 2013

Has anyone ever created characters that you just can’t let go?

My first year of NaNo was my first foray into novel-length writing. I came up with to lead characters, strong-willed, emotional Luciana, and reserved, level-headed Delaney, the main characters of my novel Curse of Ancient. They started out with relatively set personalities that didn’t change much throughout the story. I finished the novel, and beat the 50,000 word count goal. I liked the story. I liked the ending. And for me? That’s saying a lot.

Two months later, when I was beginning the editing process, a virus made my way into my old laptop. Everything had to be wiped. I had been able to print out probably about 80% of my novel, but I lost my ending. To say it was discouraging is a bit of an understatement. So I put the novel aside. I started on a different novel that November, and beat the goal, but never finished the story. I loved the characters I had created, but it just didn’t feel the same.

So I started editing a few of the chapters of Curse of Ancient. Just a few pages at a time, and it reminded me how much I loved those characters.

That’s the way it’s gone for the past two years. I’ll put the novel aside, work on a different project, but I’ll always come back to Luciana and Delaney. When I got stuck on last year’s NaNo, I pretty much scrapped the entire story and went back to writing shorts about my two other characters. And by this point, they had changed. They’re still the same characters, but so much better. There’s depth to their personalities now.

I’m so glad that I didn’t just forget about these characters. I don’t know that I’ll ever go back and rewrite the end to their original story, but I’m certainly not done writing with them. Rediscovering these characters and how great they are has been one of my favorite parts of writing so far. It makes me curious if anyone has ever had a similar experience with characters that they’ve written?

Cheers!

Mayuuya (Chelsea)