The return of the half-assed writer person

I’m baaaaaaack!

This is the longest I’ve been away from the blog since I started it. I don’t have any good reasons for my absence but I have some pretty bad excuses, e.g. “I can’t think of anything worthwhile to write about” or “I just don’t feel like it.”

That pretty much sums up my mood this past week. The things I’ve wanted to write, that have come bustling into my mind saying, “’Scuse me, I need to be written right now, immediately,” have not been blog posts or book chapters. I’ve piddled around with some personal things that I think are well-written but too personal to share, I’ve played with my horse (and other horses), I’ve gone running, and I’ve halfheartedly worked on the Untitled P.O.S. You may have noticed that I added a word count meter for said P.O.S. in the sidebar and that I’m quite behind schedule.

So yes, it has been slow, unproductive, uninspired going. If you believe that the only way to write is to sit down and write as much as you can every day, then I have failed quite miserably. However, I don’t feel like I’ve failed. My word count may not be rocketing up like the temperature has been lately, but I’ve learned quite a bit about myself as a writer.

Plotting: consider me converted

The first thing I’ve realized is that all my plotting has paid off. The plotting is the best thing past me ever did for present me. Without my outline this project would be dead in the water, because when I don’t feel like writing, I really don’t feel like writing on the fly. Nothing is more intimidating to unmotivated me than not knowing what’s going to happen next, let alone figuring out how to write it. It feels like I’m building a bridge as I’m trying to cross it. Or something. Whatever. Anyway, sitting down to an outline rather than a blank page gives me a sense of security and confidence, and I think that improves my writing.

If you put enough snowflakes on a roof, it caves in.

I use “even” way too much. I used “even if,” “even now,” and “even then” in the same paragraph. It seems like a small thing, but small things add up. I notice repetitive diction when I’m reading stuff other people wrote, so I’m glad I caught this one fairly early on. Hopefully it will keep me alert for other noticeably repetitive phrases that may crop up.

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

I struggle with this. I aspire to this. How many words are enough? How many are too many? This paragraph is exposition; is that inherently bad? If I were a better writer, would I say this differently? It’s a nagging insecurity, but I think it’s kept me vigilant and aware of describing things to death. My slow writing pace this time around has allowed me to consider my words more carefully.

Put me in the mood, baby.

Another thing I’ve learned is just how super duper important my playlist of “mood music” is. I chose the songs to help me get in the frame of mind necessary to write my characters, and it has been invaluable when I’m begrudgingly sitting down to write. Some of them are “Adrian songs,” some of them are “Leila songs,” and some of them just capture the general overtones of the story. If you have any interest in listening, it’s over there in the sidebar.

 The puzzle is done, but I still have these pieces.

I’ve realized that I don’t have to put every single detail of back story in the book. I have probably thought out almost every single detail and I do think my characters’ lives leading up to the actual story are pretty interesting, but they’re not necessarily…necessary. The temptation is to shoe-horn them in because I’m so cool for thinking up intriguing back stories and I want everyone to know how cool I am. Because I am extremely cool.

Well, that’s that. For now, at least. I’m sure by the end of this project I’ll have learned lots more fun things about my writing and I will bless all of you by sharing all of them in my infinite writerly wisdom and coolness. Aren’t you excited?

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For lack of a better title, [insert Latin phrase here]

Things I am good at: talking to cats, annoying my brother, discussing the finer points of Tom Hardy, remembering exact quotes.

Things I am bad at: being sensitive and empathetic, returning texts promptly, cooking, thinking of titles.

Today I’m going to talk about titles, because that’s what’s annoying me right this very second. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m working on a novella this month. I’ve posted an excerpt from it, and as of right now it’s labeled “Untitled P.O.S.” It is so called because I struggle with titles.

At this point in time, I shouldn’t be stressing over the title of this project. I should be fussing over actually writing the thing. While I am most certainly fussing over the writing, its lack of a name is nagging at me. If nothing else I’d like to have a working title; at least that way I could stop calling it “that piece of shit” because how is anyone supposed to differentiate it from the other untitled pieces of shit I’ve written?

This certainly isn’t the first time a title has been a significant distraction to me. Back when I was writing my failed NaNo project (notice that’s become an unofficial title) I called it Inferos. “Inferos” is a Latin word and, according to the ABSOLUTELY INFALLIBLE Google translator, it means “hell.” Before settling on that, I was scrawling title ideas on everything; napkins, sticky notes, other people’s foreheads, wherever. It drove me nuts to open a file named “something_something_Idunno_draft1.” When “inferos” popped up, I thought it fit. Heaven, hell, and lots of other religious themes were present (by “present” I mean “sledge-hammered in the reader’s face”) in the story, so the language and the meaning of the word seemed logical. I also liked the look and sound of the word, as I do many Latin words.

After “winning” NaNo, I had the fantastic opportunity in the form of a free consultation with The Book Doctors (Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry). I had already purchased and read a good portion of their book (I seriously can’t tell you how insanely helpful this is to an unpublished writer hoping to get published), so when it came time for my consultation I thought I had a pretty good handle on the situation. After we talked about my pitch, David kindly told me what I needed to hear: The title was bad. It wouldn’t tell the prospective buyer or reader anything unless they knew Latin, which practically nobody does. Even if they did, it was vague to say the least.

If you think that’s the end of Carly’s adventures in dead languages, think again. When I wrote the short story that spawned my current project, I called it Veritas without a moment’s hesitation. The idea of truth is a strong element, the main family motto is in Latin, and it was 5 a.m. so I didn’t even give a rat’s ass. However, I knew the title wasn’t there to stay. Once I started planning the novella, I mentally unnamed it.

And that brings us to now. I still don’t have a name for it.

Obviously I’m not going to die if I don’t think of a title right now immediately ten minutes ago. If I had really had my priorities straight I would let it go untitled until such time as I actually needed a title or one appeared from the story itself, but nothing I’ve written on this blog suggests I’ve got my priorities straight and I’m certainly not going to start now.

At this point, I’d like to ask something a little more specific than “Hey hey hey, whaddaya guys think about titles?” because we all know titles are important and blah blah, great stuff, Carly. I would like to ask my readers about the title of my book. Something like, “If you saw these three titles on the shelf, which would you choose and why?” I would also like to do a book giveaway.

Hint, hint.

The only problem is, I don’t know how to connect those two yet. Thankfully, I have a team of experts working on it (or something), so with any luck I’ll have some kind of a naming contest/giveaway going on in short order.

In the meantime, do feel free to share your thoughts on titles, fonts, colors, page numbers, dead languages, et all ad nauseam. See what I did there?

Now just give me fifteen minutes to think of a title for this post.