What did I get myself into?


My summer novel-writing has commenced.

I have forgotten how taxing it is to write a novel–emotionally, mentally, and physically. Yesterday, I got together with Puer and Paper for a “write-in,” a good 2-3 hours of solid writing. I was totally wiped out and crawled into bed around 10 p.m. because my energies were so completely sapped. Hopefully this goes away and I’ll be able to write more efficiently throughout the summer. I guess I’m just miserably out of practice. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little discouraged, but I’m going to stay optimistic. I’m determined to get through this, and my characters are coming to life like never before. I currently have 14,000 words of Boot Hill written, and only about half of that had previously been written/polished. So far so good! I’m pretty happy with how it is coming out, too.

The only context I’ve ever had for writing a novel is National Novel Writing Month, and I’m not convinced my seven attempts (and five wins!) at writing 50,000 words in a month have prepared me for undertaking an entire novel in three months–the word count for this particular installation is looking at around 100,000 words. I know it sounds like the three-month 100,000 word novel would be a lot easier than 50,000 words in one month, but the honest truth is that there’s not much I took away from my NaNoWriMo writing attempts. As much as I loved the experience, most of the drafts I “won” with ended up in an archived folder on my computer, never to be opened again. Much of my writing felt so sub-par, irrelevant, and unusable for me that NaNoWriMo became more of a writing exercise than a fast way to churn out a story. I know it works for a lot of people; I just don’t think I’m one of them, unfortunately. I’m trying to make Boot Hill something I can be proud of, and I don’t think rushing myself is the key. So the alternative is this three-month summer option, and I’m doing my damnedest to make things work.

Here are a couple paragraphs I wrote yesterday that I quite liked:

My eyes flutter open to a brilliant orange and yellow sky. Finch sits beside me, chewing on a long piece of grass as he looks out into the distance. My heart jumps into my throat and I scramble away from him, wincing as the pain in my shoulder flares. I grasp at the wound, shallow breaths trickling from my chapped lips as Finch and I look at each other. After a few seconds, he stands and shakes his head. Both of his guns are secured in their holsters.

“Get up,” Finch says, striding toward me and grabbing my uninjured arm. “You’ve stirred up a whole heap of trouble, Linds.” I don’t move. He crouches down next to me. “Now, you’re coming with me once and for all. Y’understand? Or do I have to tie your hands so you won’t swat at me and my boys?”

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10 thoughts on “What did I get myself into?

  1. puerandpaper on said:

    I <3 Finch!

    Whenever you feel comfortable, I'd leave to read what you've written (from beginning to end :3). I need my Boot Hill fix!

    Also, believe me when I tell you that writing in the summer is 100 times easier than NaNoWriMo, I think because November is a really busy time for school projects and Thanksgiving and such. I've never won NaNo myself, but wrote most of my second book in one summer. You can do it! Just focus on your characters and not on word count and you'll be fine.

    • Yay! I’m glad you like Finch. Obviously I adore him, but I wonder if that’s pure delusion because he can be known to be a complete asshole at times.

      I’m going to believe you when you say writing in the summer is easier than NaNoWriMo. This helps me readjust my thinking, which I need right now. And when I finally get everything organized, I’ll send you the bit I have. I know you’ve read the first two chapters about a dozen times at this point, but I’m sure it’d be nice to read everything in order and together. This is why you need to send me all your first and second books again!

      “Just focus on your characters and not on word count and you’ll be fine.” <– best advice I've received yet. <3 Thanks.

  2. I love the paragraphs you wrote. Definitely makes me want to read more. I sometimes struggle with writing when I have more time. Deadlines make me really productive. But it sounds like you are giving yourself some artificial deadlines and keeping on a schedule, so I bet you’ll get a lot accomplished. Good for you!

    • Thank you, Dr. Renner! That means a lot coming from you.

      I have found that having more free time makes it much harder to actually produce, especially when no one is requiring results from me. That’s why I am trying to work under self-imposed deadlines. We’ll see how far that goes, haha. But I truly appreciate your support and encouraging words.

  3. Michelle! I am so excited that you are embarking on Boot Hill with determination this summer, I’ve loved everything you’ve written so far. If you ever need encouragement, your snail mail buddy will be here to yell at you in french.

    Obtenez de travail! Bonne chance! ;)

    • Stephanie! Thank you for being understanding and supportive despite my lack of response over the school year. Your support and kind words have always been a source of encouragement as I write Boot Hill, and it means a lot to me.

      How are you doing? I’ve missed talking to you. :) I have both of your letters on my bedside table and will be re-reading them and sending out something soon.

  4. Kylie Byrd on said:

    I’m sure it will get easier. Like with any activity, you’ll have days where you’re on fire, and days when you’re sore and it’s hard and you don’t like it. It’s like running, and once it’s a part of your routine, you will look forward to it! (Not that I’ve ever written consistently enough to get to this point. Or ran that much, for that matter.)

    And don’t forget that writing IS hard work. It’s not like it /should/ be easy. :) Good luck my dear. I’d love to read what you’ve got so far when I FINALLY get your stories back to you. I’m sorry I’ve been so egregiously late with that. I’m trying to block out everything that is not school until I’m done, whereupon I’ll commence living an actual life again!

    <3

    • You’re right. I’ve always found it difficult to separate “work” from “hobby” when I’m writing because I truly want to enjoy what I’m doing and I’m not getting paid for it–yet. From that angle, I might as well have a good time while I’m doing it, right?

      At the same time, writing a novel is extremely difficult, and I should probably acquire a more “work” approach to my writing so that I treat my goals and deadlines seriously while still finding ways to enjoy what I’m doing.

      It’s the balance I’m struggling with right now. I’ll figure it out, though! Thank you for your encouraging words of support. :)

      No worries about not getting back to me on my stories. They’ll always be there whenever you find time to read them! In the meantime, I’ll be sending them out to literary magazines, hoping for the best. :) Good luck on finishing up school! We shall talk soon, Ky!

  5. hunter on said:

    I just need to post all the stuff you write on tumblr. It seriously kills me it’s so good.

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