Filtering by Tag: donald maass

2015: Best Year Ever?



It’s New Year’s Eve. This time tomorrow, we will be at the start of a brand new year. Can you believe it? 2015 is almost gone, never to be seen again.

I hope your year was filled with all things that were good. I know mine was.

From start to finish, my 2015 was a lesson in changing and learning and growing. On a big picture level, there are a few things that stand out:

I wrote. A lot. Like, a lot, a lot.

At the beginning of the year, I attended a writing conference put on by the fabulous Capital City Writers Association, called Write on the Red Cedar. It was, hands down, the best conference I have ever been to. I paid extra for a workshop with Donald Maass, and, OMG guys, I learned so much. I went in to the workshop with my completed NaNoWriMo novel (the sequel to the one I had finished the year before), and when I left, I had a plan for rewriting the entire last half. That workshop was a game changer for the way I write.

As a side note, the CCWA is doing another conference in January, and this year's headliner is Bob Mayer. Interested? Ya better hurry. They're almost sold out!

So, I rewrote the last half of that book and turned it in to my wonderful writing group. The verdict? It was a solid first draft with minimal issues. The entire experience—writing that book, attending the conference, rewriting half of the book—guys, it changed me. As I’ve mentioned before, I spent a LONG time working on one book. Over and over and over and…well, you get the picture. I wrote that book so many times. I was stuck in a loop. When I decided to write something new last November, I had no idea how it was going to change me.

In about March, armed with notes from my writing group for revisions, I cracked open my manuscript, ready to revise. Only…I couldn’t. Because I had learned so much about writing and about my abilities as a writer, I knew I had to go back. I had to go back to that FIRST book. If I was going to present the two novels I had written as a series, then I had to rewrite book one. It didn’t match the tone, the voice, the everything of book two. So, with a sharp edge of hesitance, of nervousness, I rewrote book one. 


In July, I had MAJOR SURGERY!!!!! My gallbladder had been trying to kill me for a while and so I finally got that sucker yanked out. Life has been much less painful since.

I finished my rewrite somewhere around mid-August, and threw the whole thing to my writing group. At this point, it wasn’t even a rewrite. It was an entirely new book. The character names were the only constants between the new and old. And it was the right decision. My group loved it—of course, there were suggestions to make it better, but overall…I couldn’t have asked for a better critique.

From September to October, while putting together a plan of action for revisions, I went back to school. I finished one class before I decided that now was not the right time. I was finally onto something with my writing, I was excited, passionate, confident about it for the first time in forever, and I didn’t want to split my time between writing and school. It was a hard decision to make, because I don’t have much left for my Bachelor’s degree, and we all know writing ain’t a logical career choice (at least if you’re looking to quit your day job). But in the end, I had to follow my heart, and my heart was with the writing. It always has been.

So, I withdrew from school. One of these days, I’ll get back to it, finish up that degree. Hopefully by then, I’ll have a few published books under my belt.

Also in October, I took my first solo trip. I flew to New Jersey to spend a week with my best and oldest friend and her family. Jersey was beautiful, her boys were beautiful, and I finally got to see the ocean! 



It was a wonderful trip, and it gave me a confidence I needed to know that I COULD travel solo. Because that is a huge dream of mine: to hop on a plane aimed for Europe and see everything on my own. Now I know that I don’t suck at traveling.

In November, I started a new book. I didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo, but I got damn close. And by the end of the month, I had 42k’s worth of a new draft I was excited and passionate about. The third book in my series was well on its way.

Not to mention, my writing lobster and I rang in the end of NaNoWriMo the best way possible—in a cabin in the woods, no wifi for miles. It was gorgeous and inspiring. It has since been decided that this must become a tradition.




Now, at the end of December, the end of 2015, I have not added to my NaNo word count. Instead, I’ve spent the month rearranging what I wrote in November. Once I’ve got everything in its place, I’ll finish writing the book (even though I don’t have an outline, so I don’t know how it all ends), and then I’ll move on to revisions—for all three books. Because that’s not crazy or anything…

So…yeah. That was my year in a nutshell. 2015 just might be my most favorite year so far. 2016 is going to give it a run for its money, though. Which, let’s be honest, is a good place to be in.

Stay tuned for a “things I’m going to do in 2016” post.

How was your 2015? Do you have any big plans for 2016?

How YOU Doin, 2015?

Okay, okay. So it's been over four months since my last post. I am KILLING this blogging thing. KILLING. IT.

In all reality, I've spent the better part of my time since late-October...WRITING.

I completed NaNoWriMo with just over 53k words, then continued to work on my novel for the next couple months. I typed the words The End in mid-January, then attended a fantastic writing workshop with Donald Maass, which spurred ALL THE EPIPHANIES. I rewrote the last half of my book, then turned it in to my fabulous writing group. From the moment I turned it in to the morning of the meeting, I felt like I was going to throw up or die or both.

I couldn't have asked for a better meeting, though. I got great feedback, and a relatively short revision list for my book baby.

You guys, I am so, so proud of this book. After spending the better part of 8 years writing and rewriting my last book, I wasn't sure going into NaNoWriMo if I could write something new. But I wrote the hell out of this new book, and you know what? It's so much better than the other one. I have really found my voice as a writer, and I've learned and grown so much. This new book...it's me. The last book, I spent years and years trying to figure out WHO I was, what I wanted the book to be, what I could and couldn't say...and so on.

Once I hit my stride, the words wouldn't stop coming. I laughed, I cried, I had an absolute blast writing that book.

And now...well, now I'm going back to the first one.

I know, I know. Sounds silly, right? Why go back to the book I'd spent year after torturous year writing after discovering a new confidence with a new book?

Well, the thing is, I believe in the characters in the first book. I love them. I love the story. I want to give them the book they deserve. And I believe I can do that now. Now that I've figured out how I work, how to be free with my words and not allow self-doubt to censor me, I really believe I can make this book what it was meant to be.

Outlining has proven to be a bitch, though.

The thing I'm struggling with is this: there is a lot to be loved in the original draft. And there are ideas a-plenty to improve it. So, I'm trying to find the balance between the old and new. And let me tell you...it's not easy.

But I've got a self-imposed deadline. I want to have this new version completed by the first week of May. That gives me...two months?

Shit. I'd better get cracking.



PS: How ADORABLE is my new header? My wonderfully amazing best friend and writing lobster, Christina made it for me. She rocks, eh?