What I Learned Writing My First Draft

I have spent 26 months, off and on, writing my novel. So many things happened in my life in those two years: a new baby, a ton of loss, a new job, a promotion, a couple personal crisis, a bout of postpartum depression, a year of college, and ultimately growth.

Though I really want to rest on my laurels, I know that it is not finished. I know that there is sooooo much editing to do and it is killing me to take a break from it. One piece of editing advice I received which was by far the most discouraging but made the most sense, was to rewrite the entire thing from scratch. To print out my existing content, finger paint all over the pages, and type it from there. Only then can I ensure that I did not lazily skip over details that need to be added (Writer friends: thoughts on this process. It makes me want to cry but I am also seeing where I need to do this).

So onto what I have learned:

  1. Keep writing when you are stuck. If it’s too hard, then you need to go back and change something to help you move the story along. I killed someone and was stuck writing for MONTHS! So I brought him back to life and that was that. It added a dynamic to the universe that I built and was helpful down the road.
  2. Have a writing routine. Whether you spend every Sunday morning writing, an hour a day, or a specific word count per day, week, etc, just have some sort of consistent and sustainable goal to write. Once you set these goals, make them a priority.
  3. Join a network of follow writers. I personally enjoy the fellowship and talents at ChapterBuzz . Run by a self-publishing coach, it gives you encouragement, monthly challenges to help you create writing routines (See #2) and also comes with a social network on FaceBook. You can also follow Tim Pike’s blog at What Inspires Your Writing.
  4. Do NOT edit. Lawd. Some days, in the very early stages when I was not feeling motivated or otherwise creative, I would go back and edit previous chapters. Now I can see that even then, and probably less now, I had no idea what I was doing. Before it fully developed into what it is now, my writing sucked. Just wait til it’s over to edit.
  5. You can have a working title, but chances are it wont stick. I created a word to describe a main puzzle piece in my book, but after much thought I knew that if I saw a book on the shelf with that title, I’d never pick it up. It was awkward, was made up, and no one could relate to it. So thank you, Google, for helping me brush up on electrical vocabulary. I stumbled on something ironic, easy to pronounce, and relevant to the story.
  6. There is absolutely NO reason to pursue representation from an agent before your word is D.U.N. DONE! Thinking about it is going to stress you out. Instead create a realistic timeline to completely complete your work. And then MAYBE you’d be brave enough to begin the query process. So if there is less than a week from the time you type THE END, until your dream agency hosts a Twitter Query Session, you should just patiently and painfully stick to your REASONABLE timeline. Do not try to edit your first 50 pages in a week. It’s unrealistic and will not be your best work. Then you run the risk of being rejected by your dream agency. No one wants that.
  7. TAKE A BREAK WHEN YOU ARE DONE!! I had planned to finish writing on June 30th then jump right into editing on July 1st. Little did I know, the book would be done two weeks early and 15,000 words short. But the story is written. I have given myself a month and a half to edit and bring up the word count. I need a break anyway to focus on things that have been neglected like my blog, and every other social media account I have as a writer.

 

So there you have it. Wednesday is that twitter pitch for my dream agency, in case you wondered. I’m chewing my nails wanting to try my queries, but I’m scared of what happens if they love it and want more. Should I ignore them and just rest assured that they would at least want to hear it at some point? Like August 15th when I had planned on being done? Or should I just watch and see what kind of pitches they picked to check out.  UGH!!!

Hope you enjoyed. Do you have any advice to add?

Not me. Not this time.

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I have never been the one to mess with. I have either always knew the rule or researched it enough to know whether my stance on the matter was right or wrong. Health/ dental insurance don’t mess with me.  I know my contract in and out. I know what I am “entitled to”.

“But Dacia, you’re a millennial, you’re not entitled to anything!

I am a ten year Army veteran. I have earned my health and dental plans. (But really they are my husband’s work’s so shut up. Yes I have ‘earned’ them)

So let me tell you women something. You do not have to agree with what they tell you.

You don’t have to go along because you don’t know any better

You can learn negative and detrimental things of you own past that bring to light something you held at high regard.

You can learn that ‘”protection” might not have actually saved you from the danger of your own family.

You can learn that after 32 years of existence, what you thought you had built your own foundation  on was a lie or was kept a secret from you, in hopes that it would go away.

I feel ashamed and defensive. I feel like I am owed the truth on the matter before I go chiseling at the details.

I feel that being so comfortably removed from the situation has, yes, saved me from the physical hurt that others have experienced but also left the remaining victims silent in their recovery, personal remorse, and unable to anonymously share their side of the story.

Ladies- You are not alone. Many have felt this pain. It is not my story to tell, but if you can help others by stepping up, then maybe it’s worth it.

It is time that you have felt this validation. That YOU know that you are loved despite the things that happened to you.

I grew up so far removed. My memories are locked in the photos I own. I try to apply principles to my own little family that has very different dynamics.

If you can please help me to understand why women lay so vulnerable to men;   not allowing their own voices to be heard. Why do you place your husband above the love of your children? Then I may be able to sleep tonight.

The Prep

Last night I messaged my friend. All of my doubts about this book being “the next big thing”. I have the formula. I have the story. I have the target audience. I have suspense, and romance, and a lining of humor. But only 1% of books will get picked up by a publisher and go to print. I did not even graduate high school (I have an education, it just wasn’t “traditional”). I am terrified that the agent I want will look me over for a technicality. I want to call her and say “Girl, I’m writing YOUR book. I have what you’re buying.” Everything in me is screaming GET THIS AGENT! SHE WILL BELIEVE IN YOU!

But the truth is I am a 32 year old working mom of 2 kiddos. I work a 9 to 5 and make a good living punching the clock. I do not have a huge following. I don’t have a fan club. I have a handful of women that eat my book up faster than I can write it. They claim “you’re going to get published. no doubt.” but I do doubt. all the time.

I have gone to extremes of planning a book tour for a work that isn’t even done. I believe in it. I KNOW it’s good. It would be big without the traditional support of an agent, a publisher, and good marketing.

Last month I set a goal of writing 1,000 words a day everyday for the entire month. This would put my word count at 80,000 words: a solid word count for the genre of fiction I am writing. Yesterday I went to bed 250 words short. I felt defeated and clawing for ideas. I so desperately needed validation.

Today a few things happened. Someone walked into my office to tell me that they could not put my book down. They even had dreams about what THEY would do in the situation of the protagonist. She had hardly dipped her toe into the pool of the world I have created. I wanted to gush about how much would be revealed, but I maintained (If you’re reading this, I could really talk all day about it). I don’t normally do this, because after just a couple days at #1, I was put back in my place at #2 on the charts, I went and checked out the rankings and I WAS BACK TO #1!!!

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You can read a very rough draft of Apparent Power at ChapterBuzz

So over lunch I punched out 1500 words. I made up for my deficient yesterday and remain on target to finish June 30th. I just needed a little validation.  Happy reading!

“Platform”

This book thing is getting pretty serious. Thanks to another Challenge hosted by ChapterBuzz and Tim at What Inspires Your Writing, I am on target to finishing the first draft by the end of the month.

So far I have a blog, an author facebook page, a book facebook page, an author twitter account, the potential for a website, and a book that is currently #1 in it’s very VERY rough stages. Add it all up and MAYBE 1,000 people are aware I exist. In order to build on these platforms I need to post consistently on relevant subjects as well as mention I have a book coming out.

I also have a full time job, am writing 1,000 words a day to finish in time, and raising two kids while my husband is away for work.  How does someone get this done? How do I add hundreds of followers to my blog if I don’t even have time to post everyday? Getting 1000 words out consistently is a HUGE undertaking, so how can I keep up with these other social media outlets and grow them? (Yes I am soliciting YOUR advice).

Here is what I am currently planning to do. Buy a planner. Well, I bought one and am just waiting for it to come in. Plum Paper sucked me in with their blog planning section. I’ll post a good review in a couple of months if it actually works out well. Otherwise, I have no idea how I am going to keep my life straight over the next few months, much less build this gigantic following in order for an agent to even bat an eye at me.

 

Three Underrated Baby Items Mama Doesn’t know She Needs

As I sit in my garage selling things my family has grown out of, I can’t help but to reflect on some items that have saved my sanity the past 8 months. Things that before my second child, I had no idea existed. It would be a terrible injustice not to share them with everyone.

  1. The Silicone Breast Pump.

I bought this little doo-hicky on Amazon for about $15. Basically it’s a suction cup that catches your let down milk on the side that you are not nursing. I hated wasting this liquid gold into a nursing pad. It was also helpful in draining after babe was finished nursing if I was not completely empty. This device helped me extend my BF journey 4 more months.

2. The Infant Positioner.

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They recommend this gadget for safely side-sleeping your infant with reflux or flat head. I used this nice little cushioned divider for co-sleeping. It kept her pretty contained for the first few months and offered a snug and comfy portable sleeping mat that I literally could take anywhere. Napping in strange places or friend’s homes was so easy. And to think I paid $3 on a yard sale page for this.. (She was only asking for $1. I left her $3)

UPDATE: While this product was helpful for me and my family, studies show that anything in an infant’s crib is a potential suffocation hazard. The FDA urges to not use infant positioners because of the risk of SIDS. This was ideal for our family, but please be diligent in choosing any item for your child.

3. DIAPER STRAPS!!!!!

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If I were to get a new mama a gift, it would be about 4 of these bad boys. A local woman sells these on her Etsy page, in which I will shamelessly tag now. Sew Darn Cute where my friend Molly sells some pretty awesome mom things like door silencers and crinkle paper teething toys (which is my chunky monkey’s favorite toy). But all joking aside, these straps keep my diaper bag together and organized. I don’t have to search for a burp clothe, socks, and I don’t have diapers just floating willy-nilly in the bottomless pit of diaper bag. A good friend of mine is having triplets… I bought her 10 of these. She’s gonna need em!

 

I’m sure other items saved my life but these are just the immediate ones I can think really made a difference. What was your saving grace??

Hold the Phone, I am an Author!!

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OMG Mom, You’re AMAZING!!

My writing and novel are being show cased!! Please hop over to What Inspires Your Writing to check it out!! Follow the links to my novel and make it #1 on the charts (I’m currently #2!!)

 

The Up Hill

 

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The thing about depression is there is no black and white. No yes or no. It’s a journey. Some days the going is hard and other days just treading water is a success.

5 days shy of 8 months and I finally feel like things are on the up for me. You see, getting better does not really start at getting help. Some times it gets significantly worse after that. Getting help is like clawing at the sides of the hole you are in to slow down the rate at which you are falling. You are either going find something that saves you, or you’ll hit the bottom. And for some, that is the only time they are able to climb out.

For me, I did not quite get to the bottom. I am adult enough to know that things could have been far worse. For me, reaching out meant a small dose of medication, counseling and a ton of support from the people around me. I am not embarrassed about postpartum depression. I have a ton of friends that are pregnant. If they start having symptoms, they know exactly who to talk to.

My PPD was not a disconnect from my children. It was different. It was not even triggered by pregnancy and birth, but exasperated due to the hormone changes that go along with it. I’m depressed because I hate the way I look after these beautiful creations clawed their way out of me like Ace Ventura out of a rhino butt..

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I am sad because I will never be 20 again. I will probably NEVER fit any of those jeans in the blue tote in my basement. And I will NEVER reach my fitness goal of wearing my old bras again either.. I have so many cute ones, this in itself is depressing. You can tell me I am ridiculous and to go easy on myself because I just had a baby. But when have you ever known me to go easy on myself? It’s one of my quirks and everyone secretly loves me for it. If I was not so hard on myself, people would not get paid, and my son would smell like farts. All.The.Time. So you are welcome for me holding myself to high standards.

Back to what I was saying. I am glad you think I am beautiful. My husband is still attracted to me after this transformation, but I am not attracted to me. Nope. I struggle with the state of things. I know how to fix them, but I have not been able to sleep because babe wakes up at least every two hours to nurse, I work full time and I solo parent a lot of the time.

And I have been so tired that I would cry when my alarm went off. It was bad.

This week has actually felt like I consistently kept my head above water. I was even faced with something that would have completely derailed me, but it did not. In the past and with everything I have been through, I thought I was pretty resilient, and I guess I still am. I did not stop fighting to be happy. I knew that if I was unhappy, my children would be effected. My marriage had already taken a huge hit. But I made it through. We made it through. I could not have done it with out them.

But you know what the big turning point was? Moving the baby to her own room and sleep training. I stopped nursing in the middle of the night. She protests adamantly in the beginning but no more than an hour of crying and falling asleep and crying again cycle. After one week, I am a brand new person. I could, and plan to, conquer the world. Now I can enjoy my coffee instead of survive on it. Maybe it is selfish of me not to want my baby close at night, and I have noticed that as I get older, I am less and less willing to compromise on things like sleep. Selfish? Fine. I will own that. But I am also getting back to a personal state of better health. Which is far more important to both of my children at this point.

So thank you darling. I know when you grow up and read what your mama wrote about you, you might not like it. But if we could help others by sharing our experiences, then I’d say we’re already a pretty darn good team.

 

via Daily Prompt: Better