Hi guys! Before I jump into the meat of this post, I’d like to say that I hope you are all doing okay. Wherever you are, I know there is a lot happening. No matter the degree of severity, we’re allowed to feel stressed and uncertain about our situation.
I’m probably one of the lucky few whose lifestyle wasn’t affected too much — the company I work for was able to transition smoothly to a full-time virtual environment, and all the things I love to do like reading, writing, and drawing, are things I can do at home. And yet, the past couple of weeks have been bone-wearying for me. Change is hard, even if only a few small things changed in my life. The constant barrage of tragic news makes it nearly impossible to enjoy the things I used to do, even at home. The conflicting reactions to stress creates tension in a household I can’t leave. One would think that with stay-at-home policies in place, I would find all the time I needed to really dive into the last stages of my writing. But the fact is that I’ve been wallowing a bit. I know, it’s not a good excuse, and I have resolved to do better.
I hope that wherever you are and however you are dealing with the pandemic, that you will stay safe and strong!
I will be writing the final draft of my story next month, and I thought it’s a good time to reflect on the journey that has brought me to this point. In the end, I will have a total of 7 drafts. A part of me feels that’s too few — I know that some writers go through dozens of drafts. But on the other hand, 7 drafts in 4 years feels like a lot, especially considering that I was doing all of this on the side.
Drafts 1 – 3
For the first couple of drafts, I was mostly concerned about the main plot of the story and the characterization of my protagonists. These first several drafts focused on getting all the pieces into place in a way that makes the most narrative sense. I didn’t worry much about grammar or style.
Since I started doing NaNoWriMo in 2016, I have participated in every single WriMo challenge, including the camps in April and July, up until last November. I got to the point in my novel where I didn’t find the fast-paced, get-your-words-down-at-all-cost objective of NaNoWriMo helpful anymore.
That’s still true this time around, so I’m a little sad to say that I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Even though my participation spanned less than two years, it still feels odd not to be gearing up for it. I remember how I used to prepare all of my notes and outlines just in time for the challenges, and studiously keeping up with my word counts when it was time to crunch them. In some ways, even though they were exhausting, I miss those months. It gave me something to focus on outside of work, and my consistent progress made me feel very productive.
Right, I know that I haven’t actually made an update in weeks, but this one is pretty important. Because *drumroll*
I AM FINISHED!!
Ahh, I feel relieved! I mean, I know there’s more work to do. I literally just finished typing the ending a few minutes ago, and I still have to go over the entire draft to polish it up a little. I was supposed to trim it down from draft 4, but I somehow ended up with 4K more words, haha!
I am really surprised that I was able to finish this draft in 8 weeks, considering the past couple of months have been quite difficult for me. I was stressed about a lot of things happening in real life, and I got distracted by so many other things too (*ahem* books *ahem* Philippine Idol).
Draft 5 is important too because this is the draft that I’m planning to send out to editors. I’ll also replace the version on my BetaBooks account to this draft instead, so anyone who wants to read the novel can get what I hope is an improved experience, hehe.
I will make a new post soon to say what my next steps and plans are. I only have a vague idea at this point, so it’s probably a good idea for me to figure that out first.
I spent the last week of April and first week of May poring over the feedback I received from the beta readers who were able to make it through the entirety of the previous draft. Then I brushed up a few things, wrote a tighter outline for the character arcs, figured out a few plot holes, and then I decided I might as well take the dive and start the next draft.
There’s always a moment’s hesitance whenever I start a new draft. I always feel like I could plan just a little better, I could answer a few more questions, or maybe wait for my writing “flow” to come. But I understand that’s just a little bit of anxiety caused by a blank page. After you’ve been writing 100K words, it’s hard to go back to the beginning. And I’m also the type of writer who finds momentum in the previous sections of my story. That’s why the beginning is so important to me, because the tone I set there, the voice I begin with, will permeate the rest of the novel.
So I really took my time this week to begin with a good note.
I was going through my blog and I realized I never gave a dedicated update about my novel. In the general update I posted a while back, I passingly mentioned that I finished my novel in February and it was now up on BetaBooks.
Ah, yeah, it’s up on BetaBooks, guys! Complete with a better summary and all. You can follow that link and sign up to read it. Mind you, this is a beta, and I’m just looking for feedback for my next draft. This is by no means anywhere near finished.
In hindsight, I feel like I did myself a disservice there. It’s an accomplishment to have finished a story, considering that it took me 3 years to write a draft that I felt comfortable sharing. Then I just bury the news in a post that was about four other things. I mean, to be fair, I did post a lot about it on Tumblr, where I am more active and have more followers. I think there was just a point after finishing the novel where I just didn’t want to write any more, including things like self-congratulatory blog posts, haha. I was so tired. Also, I guess for me and more introverted writers, trying to hype up your book to get readers interested in it doesn’t come so naturally, and hence, requires a lot of energy that I just didn’t have at that time.
It’s been a long time coming. This volume has been in the works for almost 2 years, and I am so, so honoured that the piece I submitted was accepted. My short story is called The Goddess of Debt and it’s about a young woman who is unexpectedly chosen to be a human sacrifice. Yikes, I know that sounds a little morbid, but the story isn’t really about the sacrifice, as it is about the Goddess who offers her a way out, and about whether she will take it or not.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the PSF series, it is an annual anthology that celebrates speculative fiction written by Filipinos about Filipinos for anyone at all who is interested in the genre. It’s one of the few avenues out there that brings Filipino stories out to the world. The good news for you is that all the stories in the anthologies are written in English. So please support it if you can! It would mean a lot to me, whose piece is the first original fiction I’ve written that has ever been published, and to the producers of the anthology who work tirelessly year after year to serve an underserved area of fiction.
Hey guys! I know I haven’t updated very often lately, but it doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking off! On the contrary, I’ve signed up for the next round of Camp NaNoWriMo next month, and during the last couple of weeks I’ve been preparing extensively for it.
If you’ve been following my blog for some time now, no doubt you’ve come across one of my many Writing Woes posts. Most of the time, these posts deal with my angst about having to refactor my story, because as I write the outlines for the drafts, or the drafts themselves, I keep finding that my story is too complex. When I say complexity, I don’t necessarily mean the substance or message of the story, or even the style and vocabulary I use. Instead, what I mean is the layers and elements interwoven in the story.
It’s not easy to remove an element or a thread from a story, especially if, like me, you love big, epic things and you tend to plan or outline before writing. Removing an element could unravel other foundational threads, and then you find yourself with all kinds of plot holes that cannot be plugged no matter how much you try. After finishing another streamlining last night after weeks of reviewing my story again, I realized that I’ve been using the same revamping technique to tame the wild mess I’ve planned:
When I want to discard a thread from my story, I make the outcome of that thread already known to the characters.
Wow, I realize that I’ve only ever had “Writing Woes” posts, where I talk about everything that goes wrong in my writing. I didn’t actually have a positive writing post until now, which is kind of sad now that I think about it.
Anyway, “joy” is probably an overzealous word for what happened, but small wins are still wins in my book. Nothing dramatic happened, except that I managed to untangle the big hairy plot that I talked about in my previous Writing Woes post. Not only did I manage to do it, but I did it in 7 days. That’s… impressive by my standards, considering that I’ve been straining against this plot since the beginning of the year. Is it super-polished? Hah, no, I don’t think I’ll get to that stage until I’ve gone through 3 drafts at least. But the good news now is that I can move forward with my 1st draft without wanting to pull all my hair out.