Joining the Ranks

Dear Reader,

Quick update today. I went to rural Minnesota for my grandparents’ 50th anniversary over the weekend, which was a nice break from my usual hectic pace. I mean, the travel was hectic, but once we all got to the farm and I got to play with all the babies and puppies, life was pretty good.

In terms of writing, I have been guzzling articles and books about the Civil War, which is proving very helpful for The Rebel’s Hero. Luckily, I think I can keep most of the premise the same… I only have to change the location and some of the character motivations in order to be true to the time.

I just decided I will be doing A Round of 80 Words – Round Three. As in, just. I feel guilty for not keeping up as a sponsor during Round Two, but oh well. I think my goals will be the same… write at least 750 words per week. Doesn’t matter the project, I just need to keep writing.

And here’s something interesting I read over the weekend while doing research…

From the Notebook

Kentucky was a perfect reflection of the emotional and socio-political climate of the nation before and during the war. Free Kentuckians were split three ways: those who supported the Confederacy, those who supported the Union, and those who were for neutrality. Technically, you could say people were split four ways, because Unionists weren’t always abolitionists. Saying you were for the Union only meant you were against secession, not for freeing slaves.

Now here’s where it gets REALLY interesting. The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves from those states that had already seceded from the union. Because Kentucky was in the hands of the Union by this time, it didn’t have to free its slaves. Neither did Maryland, or other northern slave-holding states. Kentucky didn’t free its slaves until it was forced to via the 13th Amendment almost eight months later.

The kicker? Wait for it.

Kentucky didn’t offer its support of the 13th Amendment, officially, until 1976.

Anyone who says history is dead is walking around with blinders on, so says I.

Best,

Belinda

Low-Hanging Fruit

Dear Reader,

When I participated in the first Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80), I had lofty goals which you can reference here. On April 4th, we begin the second round.

I’m still a sponsor for ROW80, meaning I’ll be going around to the participating blogs posting encouragement. This time, I’m keeping my goal simple:

I must write at least 750 words each week.

Seriously. I don’t think I can pick lower hanging fruit than that. I have four projects in progress which count toward this oh-so-low goal (as shown in my sketch below):

  • The Rebel’s Hero (a complete re-write of Catching the Rose)
  • My Unwitting Heiress (the new book I haven’t talked about much yet except to say it’s about estranged twins)
  • Love or Lack Thereof (my short story/poetry anthology)
  • Write more Worderella book reviews

I’m a writer, I must write. I’m using this round of ROW80 is remind me of this simple fact. Each week, I’m going to post a sample of what I wrote the week before. Should be fun. Or terrifying. Or both.

Check out the goals other participants have put in place for the second round of ROW80!

On writing exhausted

This is my first time venturing into the corporate world full-time, and let me tell you, it is a different sort of exhaustion than I was expecting. In order to fulfill my duties in my position at a large corporation I had to work a ten hour day yesterday and will do so again today. Add commuting time and I’m working two twelve hour days in a row.

Wait, I thought I wasn’t supposed to do that anymore now that I’ve left school? So far the only difference between school and work is that I have to make sure I shower everyday.

I’m not entirely serious about that.

Or am I?

Anyway, I’ve been determined to keep up with my writing, even with these long days. Living at home has been amazing, if only for that reason. I come home, exhausted, and rather than having to worry about what I’m going to eat for dinner, oh hey, Mom made spaghetti, sweet. I’ll eat, do the dishes, and then log into http://750words.com to get my quota in for the day.

It’s like NaNoWriMo, but without the stress. I just have to make sure I write 750 words. And that’s a far more manageable number than the 1,266 you need to do every day to win NaNoWriMo.

When you’re exhausted at the end of the day, what do you do to accomplish your writing quota? If you don’t have a quota, how do you make sure you keep writing even when it’s difficult?

Write Every Day

I am now a Master of Science. Fear me!

What have I been doing with myself?

I have taken my time detoxing from the intensity of my masters program. Graduating has felt like how I imagine transitioning to civilian life after being in the military for two years must feel. I didn’t have to kill anyone (though I wanted to), but life in the “real world” such as it’s described is very different. For one thing, I get to make money. For another thing, I actually pay taxes now.

Welcome to the world of adulthood, Belinda.

My first week after graduation was spent hanging out with friends and watching movies, as well as moving home to the parents’ house while looking for a job.

The second week out of school, I began to read fiction, but not necessarily romantic fiction. After my stint as a literary short story writer for one of my elective courses, I realized that while I love to write about love, it doesn’t always have to be distinctly romantic, or at least belonging to the romantic genre and the dogma that goes along with it.

And you know what that means, if I’ve begun to read fiction again. Yes, you assume correctly, it means I’ve begun to write fiction again.

Starting over

As mentioned in my previous post, the last two years have been… an experience. To say the least. And with the aplomb of any good writer, I mean to use my experiences to inform my writing. Not explicitly, of course, but I have learned so much about how people actually behave versus how we read about them in fiction.  I wanted to continue writing Trentwood’s Orphan; I’d had a dream about the characters about a month ago, which hinted at my shifting interests from academics back to fiction writing.

The problem? Everything seemed too fantastic, too dramatic, too… forced. I was trying to create drama rather than allowing the inherent dramatics of being human speak for themselves. Which brings me to my point: I’m starting over. I have cut 75% of the character list, 100% of the plot, and 100% of the theme.

I pulled out my whiteboard and began scribbling thoughts about the new theme, which I had realized while falling asleep the night before. I thought about the experiences I’ve had over the last two years, and pulled in what few characters I actually needed to tell the story. I put major plot points on post-it notes and arranged them on the whiteboard under the headings Act One, Act Two, and Act Three. I copied my notes into my notebook, and walked away for an hour.

And then I began to write Haunting Miss Trentwood.

Write every day

If you’re having trouble writing, I’d like to point you in the direction of a really simple online writing tool that has worked wonders for me. It’s called 750 Words, and that’s the entire point. You log in with your existing online profiles, including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and write.

After you log in, you are greeted with a blank screen with a cursor, with the date at the top of the screen. And you write. There is a running total at the bottom of the screen. When you reach 750 words, the number turns green and you get a little notification saying “Congratulations! You’ve reached your goal!”

You have the option to change the color of your text, background, etc. Other than that, the only thing you can control is your writing. The website doesn’t care how long it takes you to write, it simply expects you to write 750 words that day. It logs your typing style, and autosaves for you. There is no formatting of the text so you can’t get distracted.

It’s simple. It’s brilliant.

My friend used 750 Words to spur his writing of his masters thesis, and while I had no problems with my masters thesis, I’ve been a little intimidated to start the new incarnation of Mary’s story. So I logged into 750 Words and gave it a whirl. Next thing I knew, I had 1000 words, and a solid first chapter.

Give it a try. It might work for you.

Worderella Writes schedule

Given the fact that I want to focus on my writing, I’m taking a much-needed actual vacation, I’m starting a new job, and I’ll be moving out of the parents’ place in a couple of months, I don’t want to get ahead of myself and commit to too much all at once. Or rather, more than I have already. So I’m only going to promise to write once a month, probably on a weekend. It might be a simple writing update, it might be a book review, it might be a cool link, it might be all of the above.

Most of all, I’m just glad to be back. Sincerely and truly back, doing what I love: sharing my love of writing with my peers.