WRITING PROGRESS DIARY
“CARDIAC ARREST” (working title)
AMBER LOVE 11-DEC-2014 I didn’t write any detailed journal entries for last week which was Week Five of working on this project. I’ll see what I can recall from memory. To bring you up to speed, this is a continuation of the project I started for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I kept a fun journal about that experience and even recorded two podcasts about it, a solo one and one with Josh Neff, one of my writing buddies. Just like part one of my writing diary, there will be GIFs. Lots of them! I’m sorry (not sorry) that they are prosaic and uncool anymore! I DON’T CARE. GIFs speak for me!
Dec-01 I am still quite proud that I achieved 55,000 words in the month of November. I was behind the average until November 17th when I finally closed the gap in my word count to meet the suggested total needed for that date in order to keep a pace and complete on time. The thing is, my story currently under the working title Cardiac Arrest, was not finished at 55,000 words. It reached a good point. The murder had taken place around 42,000 words and the main character had been having her roller coaster of life shitting on her and her attempts at bouncing back.
Dec-08 Last night, I had a great time recording two episodes of Vodka O’Clock with Josh Neff. Josh was one of my NaNoWriMo Writing Buddies. It’s like “following” someone on Twitter. You can add a buddy during November and cheer each other on. We did that through Twitter anyway so the buddy status was only a formality. I had a few buddies but used either Twitter or Facebook to actually connect with them. Our talk last night got me excited about the scene I needed to tackle today. I could have continued sitting at my desk at 8pm and written it then but I don’t really have energy at night. It’s hard enough to interview someone when I’m well passed by energy peak. Honestly by 2pm, I’m usually toast.
Today, I spent hours editing those podcast recordings and making the show notes. I released the first one which was all about writing and how different our processes are. Josh is a free writer, a pantser; I am a plotter in need of an outline or I will never move my story in the direction it needs to go in order to finish. I worried the entire time that I was editing the show that my energy would be sapped by that and I wouldn’t be able to write anything today. I also woke up around 4:30 am again for the third day in a row. I don’t stay up. I make a trip to the bathroom and then go back to bed. I usually don’t get back into a decent sleep but I close my eyes and consciously dream. Part of what I was dreaming about was this scene that I wanted to do next. Fortunately, after I edited the show, I was still able to come up with my word count.
By just a few minutes after 1:00, I reached my word count for today and finished the scene pretty much where I expected. That’s five straight hours of sitting at this desk doing things. And they were things that I actually enjoyed doing.
My goal for this week is to strive for 2,000 words a day for five more days to bring me to 80,000. People have suggested that then it’s a good time to walk away from the manuscript for a while. Don’t revise until I’ve taken a break from this story. I happen to have one more historical comic script to write so next week, I’ll do that. It’ll give me the break while continuing to write.
Then, as it tends to happen when you’ve networked with people online, I spotted a few good folks who were beginning a writing sprint together. I nosed my way in and after yet another hour, I had another 1,600 words (roughly, I don’t do math much) bringing me ahead of schedule for the week! I called it a day and went to make another cup of coffee, get some snacks which includes chocolate cookies, and will park my butt in front of the TV now.
DEC-09 Today has been hard. There’s no single reason for it. Depression doesn’t answer to logic nor reason. I got a later start this morning. Stayed in bed later which consequently meant spending some time with family then getting to my desk to write even later. I did rather well hitting my daily target by 1:00 though and I was impressed I managed to do that. Part of it was because one of the scenes was practically autobiographical. “Writing what you know,” in this case what I know, definitely makes me get the words out faster.
The world is still plagued by protests about civil rights. There are still arguments about whether a traumatized rape victim lied or is suffering from memory issues with PTSD. Then the CIA torture report came out. If you can’t handle it, don’t even look it up. I had to take a few breaks trying to read the watered down article on Mother Jones about it. The world sucks. Humans have created an awful existence for each other. Don’t try to get all “but people are mostly good” on me. I know most people are mostly good. But People, as a unit, suck major ass and are out for destruction.
I also attempted to dip my toes back in the job hunting pool and look up some postings. That was another round of disappointment. I didn’t even try it until after I hit my word count though. I had a feeling that if my depression swelled any more, there was no way I’d be able to get a sentence out.
My story should be nearing its end. It’s hard to figure out how exactly to place the players and make them all do what I need them to do in order to have the mystery be good. I was let down reading Rowling/Galbraith’s Cuckoo’s Calling. I was glued to until the end. The end – the reveal of whodunit – sucked! And that’s one of the world’s most successful authors. I do not want my little cozy to turn out like Cuckoo’s Calling. I want it to be better.
DEC-10 Powered through today and decided to take a pivotal scene that was going to be separated by events and move them together to see if it makes sense. 3,000 words and so close to being done. My murderer could still be any number of people at this point but I hope the clues are weeding out some. Not sure. It probably sucks.
LOOK AT THOSE GREEN BARS!!!! I’m at the point where I need to formulate the actual reveal and have the identity of the murderer outted by the protagonist. Today, I wrote an emotional scene for her where fights with her husband have escalated. Tomorrow, I need to swing back to the murder, the “A” plot and figure out how to wrap that up so readers would be satisfied. I listened to several episodes of Writing Excuses podcast today in their “Endings” tag. It was perfect to get me started today because each episode they said your ending doesn’t need to be explosively mindblowing. It needs to give readers the things you promised them – in my case, the murder resolved – but doesn’t require epic fanfare. I think Murder, She Wrote wrapped up their cases quietly like that every time, same as Agatha Christie. Not everything needs the Michael Bey treatment of hero and villain having a blood bath showdown.
DEC 11 – I knew I’d be able to hit my 80,000 word target today but I still wasn’t confident that the story ending would be wrapped up in a way that is satisfying. I screwed around a lot more online today than I have been during my writing block of time that I have been keeping – anywhere from 8am or 9am to 2pm. For the past few sessions, I’ve kept that lovely Project Targets panel open and floating on the right side of my Scrivener screen where there’s room and it’s out of the way but I can obsessively look at it. Today I didn’t open it until after I had been writing a while. I had a feeling about my word count and my pace based on the last five weeks of dedicated writing. When I checked I saw I was around 1,400 words into my day. I screwed around some more and eventually made my way back to the manuscript. When I felt that I was finally buzzing along at a good pace with this particular scene, I checked again and had a good feeling that I hit my target. Indeed, I did. I’m just over 80k now and will get back to it.
My highest daily word count had been on Monday, November 24. It was 4,462 words. Today, I soldiered through and achieved 6,394 words in order to get the rough draft completed! I did not even settle on who the murderer was until TODAY. Insane, I know. I kept changing my mind which allowed me to plant red herrings throughout the book. Even so, I changed my mind today a couple times but went back to the one I thought fit the best.
THAT’S RIGHT. ROUGH DRAFT COMPLETED!
I’ll be honest, I’ve never had an experience like this before. I’ve been unemployed at long stretches several times in my life. None of them were productive. I would try but my Depression and the stress of trying to pull my life back together after whichever crisis I had that year would win. I’ve had plenty. Divorces. Moving. Failures. Job losses. Conscious career changes. This autumn was exceptionally different and I knew that the day after my birthday when I lost my job. I was already living at home with my parents who support me and Caico one hundred percent. I had far less stress than any other time I’ve been job hunting. I don’t have to worry about affording rent or paying for heat or food; last time I was honestly considering giving up my apartment and living out of my car in Pittsburgh in the winter. Basics – heat, food, shelter – are my blessings right now. Because of that, I was able to succeed at NaNoWriMo which I know I would not have done if I was dealing with 2.5-3 hours of commuting every day, working the full day, and trying to muster energy. It wouldn’t have happened. That’s why I don’t want people who didn’t reach their NaNo 50,000 words to think that they failed. I hated seeing people write the word “fail” after November’s deadline expired.
Okay, so my parents get almost all the credit for me getting this draft done but they aren’t my old supporters. My bff Ande Parks, the incredibly kind Jon Carroll, writing buddies Thomas Pluck, Neliza Drew and new friend Josh Neff all took time to ask me how things were going, make sure I wasn’t sinking into the Depression more because of “writer’s stress” which is apparently quite common, and were all around the best cheerleaders I could hope for.