Archive for January 2nd, 2012

The Half-Year Review

Brew a  cuppa before sitting down to read this one because here’s my 1,667 daily word count requirement fulfilled. Happy Reading!

I can’t believe I’ve passed the half-year mark. Looking back, it’s been a very long time but when I think about my writing, I can still easily place myself in August when I was working furiously on the western. There have been so many lessons that I’ve learned, and have discovered so many varied aspects of my writing abilities.

It makes me really sad that I have more uncompleted works than completed ones. I had hoped to have had finished no less than 3 out of 6 but at the same time, that’s only one more than what I have accomplished so I’m content. It’s all about perspective. It’s amazing how twisting something in a new way makes something seem more positive.

And how about that journal? It’s died. I haven’t made an entry since maybe September or October. I have a memory stick that I was using faithfully but it seems that once one aspect of my writing routine slipped away, the entire exercise crumbled like a house of cards. I’ve been fairly stressed and frustrated over the past few months and I know part of the problem has been my writing. I’ve lost the creative spark because I’ve been working on stories that just aren’t  compatible with where I am as writer right now. Perhaps I’m not meant to write horror stories or pulp fiction. There’s nothing wrong with excluding a genre from your repertoire but I honestly expected to have been able to make more headway in the stories that what I did.

As many people cautioned me when they found out about my project, this is a very gruelling pace. I don’t know what exactly enabled me to be able to complete the novels in July and August and I wish I could figure it out. Maybe it was the fact that I had the time since I was essentially not working during the summer or perhaps they were stories that had to be told. I never felt overwhelmingly inspired considering I was living in my past for July and Halifax is not definitely in the desert surrounded by rocky canyons and cacti.

I woke up this morning missing the feeling that 2012 is going to be one of the best years ever for me. That was unsettling and not what I was hoping. On top of that, I shouldn’t be dreading my monthly novel selection but I am. Why would I be writing something that I’m not super excited or really looking forward to working on? This is a learning experience and a growth opportunity for me. Obviously I’m not working with the pressure of 100% success so I really can’t do any worse on this one that I have on some of the other ones. Speaking of the other ones, let’s go through them all month by month:

July (The Memoir): I’ve been trying to work on this idea for close to 4 years and it never really went anywhere. I worked a bit on it but it wasn’t until I started the challenge that I really put in the effort. In fact, it was one of the 4 story ideas that prompted this endeavour. It was really difficult to relive some of the memories I used  but it was very cathartic and obviously necessary. I know this year was supposed to be 12 novels but this one turned out to be much more autobiographical than I expected. I don’t know if I ever want to read it;; it may just stay in a high, dark corner of my closet.

August (The Western): I can’t let go of this one. It was my last success to date and I keep coming back to it. I had no idea what was going to happen and where the story was going to take me as I worked on it. What I roughly sketched out in my mind shifted and changed to the point that it turned into a YA novel. This was a shocking month for me. I learned that I can write Westerns and that I enjoy it. I’ve never read one so I can only assume that my story just very loosely falls in that category. I also learned that research takes on many different shapes and subject matter. Any story will benefit from checking out facts and bringing in as many authentic details as possible.

September (Hard Boiled Crime): My first fail was epic. This month, I discovered my voice and writing style because I just couldn’t wrap my head around and work in such a structured style. Every day was a struggle to write my story in a voice that seemed to me to be so simple and easy to imitate. Boy, was I wrong. There was nothing easy or fun about this. I also decided I didn’t like my style at all. I felt like it’s childish and too simple. There’s no adult complexities or grittiness that elevates it to the next level. And forget about polish and pizzazz. I’m not worthy of even being called a writer if any well known author is mentioned. Sometimes the truth hurts.

October (Oh, The Horror): My second fail wasn’t quite as epic but it was pretty spectacular. I think this was the month that I had the crisis. Why was I doing this? Why can’t I write swear words? Why can’t I verbalize all the awful ideas that were floating around my imagination? This month solidified my YA style and I was still emotionally revolting at that label. I wanted to be a “grown up” author yet any horror scene was a rip off of a movie or book I read at some point or was so lame-o that it would probably be rated PG-13. Besides all those issues, I realized that success each month depends on being able to boil the plot down to one main problem/conflict/issue. Anything more reduces the chances of success because the story gets too complicated and time consuming.

November (Sci-Fi): I think I want to come back to this one in the future. I really, really like the story line but I made it too complicated. It was a single plot but the point of view shifted from 1st to 3rd person in alternating chapters and each chapter ran only about 1 page. On top of that, I had a main character who never had a name and all secondary characters were groups of people. Maybe I didn’t give myself enough of a chance to really get into the story before throwing in the towel but there was too much going on and too complicated to really keep going.

December (Steampunk): This moth’s selection was another one of the 4 original ideas only this time it was character based, not a plot. I really didn’t want the month to end because I truly wanted to complete this. Sadly, that wasn’t going to happen. By this point, I’ve had so many almost-successes that I’m afraid I’m not putting the effort into it that I need to. I’m giving up too easily and not pushing myself. I absolutely adore my character’s names and thought that they would compliment the Steampunk genre perfectly. And they do. I just dropped the ball on this one. I tried writing by hand and while writing by hand is more compatible with the flow and the focus to detail, I never transferred my work to the computer. I think it has to be one form or the other.

So, with the new year, comes the second half of this adventure. I have no idea what will happen but once January’s serious fiction story is out of the way, I’m looking forward to the rest of my stories. I really hope that my inspiration or whatever I had in July and August returns and there will be more months of satisfaction than disappointment.

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