In The Flow

Ok. You want to know how bad it was? I’ll tell you anyways.

I went to my blog to write a quick post… and my site asked me if I wanted to sign up to follow Those Who Wander by email. That’s right, apparently 3.5 months of inactivity is about when you get signed out your own website, on your own laptop. Oops. That would be an all time record of radio silence…. ah well!

The long and short of it is: I have been writing. And rewriting. And rewriting some more. Imagine writing a cover letter for a potential employer….reading it, and discovering it’s not actually the story of your life…scrapping it, writing it again, and repeating. Now imagine your cover letter is 300+ pages long. :-O

Yeah. You get the idea.

The good news? I finally made a breakthrough last week, thanks to revisiting one of my favorite writing posts, Summarizing the Book You Wrote by one of my favorite authors/humans ever, the incomparable Susan Dennard (part of her The Basics of My Revising Process series).

The breakthrough went something like this: 

At 2:17AM on a Wednesday night, a grimy, chocolatepeanutbuttercup-fueled cave-creature writer was sprawled on the ground beneath her desk. Yes, beneath. She clung to the brightly colored mechanical pencil in her fist for dear life, and made her contacts blur before slightly crazed eyes, staring at the blank worksheet on the floor, meant to summarize her giant mess of a thrice rewritten story.

She grudgingly scratched out the opening image of her story’s world. It took an embarrassing amount of time to come up with those two sentences, but they felt right.

She repeated the process for her protagonist’s introduction. Once again, it took longer than she would’ve imagine to come up with the simple summary for the character she’d been writing about for the past two years, and dreaming about for years before then. But once she had those sentences, she knew they were the right ones. They just felt true.

Next came the inciting incident. The sparking moment for the young, story-obsessed bladesmith in the craft-rich world she’d imagined up for him. And that, dear friends, is when our half sleep-deprived writer nearing the end of her wits, had an AHHA moment:

The scene that had to come next. The only thing that felt natural. The protagonist’s pivot point, the excruciatingly tempting offer he has to consider, the moment where everything changes. The whirl of music, inseparably textured into a vivid world that surrounds it all.

The writer closed her eyes, and she finally smiled. She knew exactly what she had to do.

She had to get the heck out from under that desk, climb into bed, sleep a full night, and let that image simmer. She knew it would be waiting for her when she was ready, that the words would flow easily once she’d let the seeds of ideas float about in her mind and take root. And guess what? They did.

She woke that morning to an ease she hadn’t known in writing for weeks, maybe months. She found that inexplicable, irreplaceable feeling of rightness, when you know that you’ve found your story’s heart at last.

Somewhere in there, the writer apparently also developed a penchant for talking in the third person, but that’s besides the point.

Point is… I am writing again. On the right track, clear-focus writing, and it feels so good. I can’t even begin to describe the thrill that feeling is.

Imagine your favorite hobby in the world, whether it’s a sport, your job, a musical inclination, or just a beloved book. Picture how easy it is to lose hours of your life to the flow you enter when you’re in that zone, where the entire rest of the world drops away. That, to me, is being in my drafting cave at it’s finest.

So while I hate to dine and dash, and I’d love to babble on a bit more about my writing process/life and how it’s been over the past few months (let’s be honest, mostly lot’s of cave time/writing with a bit of lovely travel thrown into the mix)….Well, I have to get back to my book. Because, for the first time in a while, the words are flowing, and I am utterly determined to get them down on a page.

I will be traveling in a few weeks, to RT2016 (!!!) so I will hopefully post again from the road/plane/hotel. Until then, be well all! And please excuse me my upcoming social media/social anything/above-the-surface-life hiatus, again. I’ll see you all on the other side of this writing cave.

❤ Madeleine

 

 

All That Is Gold…

For All Those Who Wander – this blog is officially dedicated to you.

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And of course, to the original wanderer.

To explain this dedication and new blog title, here is a story:

A few weeks ago, I came home in a funk. As a writer, an occasional hermit, and a self proclaimed grandma (coincidentally I think my own grandmother is more in this century), I get into all sort of funks. But this funk was particular. I knew where it came from – I’ve had it many times before. In fact, it’s less of a funk and more of a yearning.

See, as far as cities go, I love Chicago. It’s a beautiful blend of cultures and distinct neighborhoods, and yet you always seem to have room to breath. I know so many people in this city, many of whom I love dearly. And yet… I am so not a city girl.

My heart is not buried between skyscrapers. It’s in the middle of mountains.

“…and then find somewhere quiet where I can finish my book!” Sound familiar? 😉

So when my family asked me how my time in the city was, I answered, “A lot of fun, but… I’m also more sure than ever that this – Chicago – isn’t where I want to end up full-time. Because ultimately, I am so much happier when surrounded by nature, space, and mountains. So I think someday, a move may be in my future.”

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FYI that’s my future house, on the top of the far right peak. Even though my writing/mountain buddy Amanda may fight me for it.

My mom was sad then. She was quiet for a time, and finally she remarked, “Well, we all have to find our paths, honey.”

I thought about it for a minute. Finally I answered, “No, that’s not quite it. I know my path right now – it’s writing. I know what I want to be doing for the foreseeable future, and I’m doing it. I’m already on that path. It’s just… finding the best routes along the way.”

And I would choose the scenic route, no matter how long it takes me to find it.

In the meantime, I will enjoy borrowing this scenic route :-)
In the meantime, I will enjoy borrowing this scenic route!

And mom – once I’m there (with my own cabin the wood, wherever that is)…. which will probably take a while… you are SO welcome to come visit me in those mountains, and bring alllllll of your many books with you!

“…the road goes ever on and on…”

So to all my wanderers, I leave you with the brilliant words of J.R.R. Tolkien – and a blog that I will aim to take in the direction of this poem. Let me know what you think.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Which is all to say that I will be king of the world!!!! Muhhahaha!
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Okay, maybe not that last part. But you get the picture. ❤

Cabin In The Woods

Life: Hello all! I have A normal(ish) update for you at last. The past few weeks have been packed for me “life”-wise, with a family friend’s wedding, family in town, hosting a slew of dinners/labor day bbqs, and generally everything piling up at once, as sometimes happens. But, it was wonderful to see family, and now I have a very clear week ahead…. more to come on that note ;).

Very serious pursuits of puzzle, Sherlock, and Friends
Very serious pursuits of puzzle, Sherlock, and Friends.
Cousin time at the wedding! Love these ladies :).
Cousin time at the wedding!

Reading: Gahh I’ve been so good all year about tracking my reading, and now I’ve fallen behind a bit! From what I remember I’ve recently read Percy Jackson and the Olympians (awesome book – Rick Riordan nails middle grade/the world/his own amazing style of storytelling) and… started a lot of other books :/. Next few weeks task – finish those half started books. Note: this may be made more difficult by the fact that I just started Queen of Shadows – and it’s a brick of my book that may occupy a good deal of my reading energies for a while. Andddd I started Venegence Road by Erin Bowman (they both came out last week, and both are already proving to be awesome. Lalalala, book-cave here I come!!!

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Only three chapters in and already love this book! #VRRoundup 😀

Writing: So. Good news, bad news. Bad news(ish) – I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that, despite having already rewritten my WIP (work in progress) once… It still has major plot problems, and it may not even be starting in the right place. In short, it is not the book I set out to write.

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Please, tell me I’m almost there.
Nope. Nope, not even close.
Nope. Nope, not even close.

But that’s not entirely bad news, because while it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to rewrite (and then revise) again, I know it will be worth it to have a better finished product – one I’m really, truly, wholeheartedly proud of.

I will climb this revisions mountain... with all the strength of a raging fire and the force of a great typhoon!!
I will climb this revisions mountain… with all the strength of a raging fire and the force of a great typhoon!!

Now, onto the really fun news. Some of you (*cough* anyone who has talked to me in the past year or five *cough*) may know that I have a burning ambition… to find a cabin in the woods and live there in peace/hermit-dom as I write away my days. Well, I’m not quite there yet… but I did have a wonderful family friend offer me up their family’s vacation home to visit so I can have a little quiet time and finish this book! And said house is kinda in the woods/mountains so…. basically I’ve died and gone to heaven.

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Small taste of cabin in the woods(ish) life!

😛 That’s all. Talk to you next week. I have woods to enjoy now!!! And I will hopefully have an sizzling update for you then! In the meantime, be well everyone, and enjoy those final days of summer (which is not technically over until September 22 and no one will tell me otherwise lalalalala!).

🌞🌞🌞

Intro Freeze-Ups and #HermitLife Aspirations

Life: Hi! SO….. sadly (from #HermitLife point of view), life was once again full of social fun things this past week. I know, I know, the weird writer life of craving hermitness is odd, but true! So on the upside – spent some time downtown, spent time with awesome friends, and had barbecue/fireworks/brunch madness. But on the downside… Not quite as much time as I would have liked writing.

But WHYYY do I have to leave the cave?!??
But WHYYY do I have to leave the cave?!?? #totallynotmelodramatic

But (and I know this is going to sound terrible that I’m viewing this as a good thing, but bear with me) my mom’s car broke down last week (sorry mom, I know you’re still mourning!), so she needs mine to get to work, soooo I’m stuck at home, and now I have that awesome excuse to not be pulled out of the cave!!!! <<< Yes, you can laugh, but no shame ;-). Love excuses to live the #HermitLife!

Reading: Finished Erica O’Rourke’s Torn Trilogy, which culminated in Bound – I loved this series. Such well fleshed out characters who I totally felt invested in, a super real love triangle, and it was overall a superbly planned out trilogy. Can’t wait to read her next series – Dissonance and Resonance (which was just released). She’s also a local Chicago author so I get to see her at her launch party at The Bookstall on Sunday!!!

Best combo - double triscuit(!) with bruschetta and Bound :D.
Best combo – double triscuit(!) with bruschetta and Bound :D.

Writing: Oh dear. But really. So to attempt to not be overly melodramatic (haha ,not my normal style if you haven’t noticed)… this round of revisions is going better than last round. I read through my printed (still smiling about that :)) manuscript last week, took notes, totally tore the book apart and put it back together again. I ended up cutting more than ten scenes and adding a few as well.

Grand total – I now have 50 scenes, and 20 of those need to be written from scratch or heavily rewritten. So I have my work cut out for me. And while I was totally psyched to be jumping back in… attempting to write a new intro had been a mess of a five day disaster. I now have like… seven? ten? different versions of a first chapter, and I’m not happy with any of them.

My life, trying to write an intro like whyyyy (cue return to normal, melodramatic self).
Me trying to write an intro like whyyyy (cue return to normal, melodramatic self).

So I think I’m going to jump to another chapter and deal with my beginning later! And hopefully it’s just the pressure of writing a fabulous intro to pull in all future agents/publishers/readers that is giving me writer’s block, and not a me problem – but we’ll see how jumping around works tomorrow! Writer friends – have you had intro rewriting freeze-up before?? What do you do about it? Would love to hear your thoughts! Until next time,

❤ Maddy