Since I write something new pretty much every day - both in a personal and professional capacity - it's almost strange to blog about writing something new. But, I've been writing about the different 'new things' that affect the things that interest me this month, so it wouldn't seem right if I leave out a topic that's pretty much one of the biggest driving forces in my life: Writing.
Besides, my friend Connie has made a special request when I was first contemplating this 31 Days project. She said she wanted a bit of an update on my novel/writing projects. So, I thought this might be a good time to do that.
Yes, I'm writing about something that I don't usually write about in public - my creative writing projects.
I'll be honest: Even though I write publicly just about every day, I've become more secretive about my creative writing projects. Keeping them mostly to myself. Every time I think about asking for some "beta readers", I end up backing out.
Very weird, because when I was a new writer, I couldn't wait to get my work out in public. I remember writing my little 'novellas' and poetry in notebooks that I'd pass around to anyone who cared enough to read, back in primary school.
Now, I don't even let my husband know the plot of the novel I've been working on and off over the last four years. Yes, he still doesn't know.
In fact, when I took a photo of my screen displaying the latest draft of my plot cards of the novel (the one I'm using as a graphic for this post), I was so hesitant to use it. That's why I even tried to make it as 'un-readable' as possible. Not sure if it worked.
Anyway, I'm rambling.
On with the creative writing projects update.
Well, I'm actually really pleased to say that this year has been a good 'return to writing' year for me. Not only did I start working on my novel again (put it aside for the most part the last 2-3 years), but I also wrote several flash fiction pieces, and finished the draft of a short script.
If you've never heard of me referring to this before, as a quick background: It's the novel that I 'completed' during NaNoWriMo 2009. I didn't win NaNo that year, though, because I fell a couple of thousand short on word count (didn't quite get to 50K). I could have stretched it a bit more, but I went on a huge overseas trip in late November, so didn't have the time.
Ever since then, I've worked on trying to rewrite it on and off over the last few years. But, after going through it in a revision workshop I did early in 2010, I knew I just had to pretty much trash most of the novel I wrote and rewrite almost from scratch.
However, I kept getting sidetracked and discouraged about the whole thing, so I kept stopping. I've tried to re-plot this story about 5 times since that first attempt in 2009. And, that capture of my recent plot cards? I think that's Version 6 now. I'm still not sure if I'm heading the right direction. I think I've been overthinking this story too much now, but somehow, I can't let it go. I've tried to give up on it several times, the same way I've tried to give up on many other novel ideas I've started and killed off. But, it's refusing to be forgotten.
So, early this year, I started working on it again. In fact, up until a month ago, I've been working on it a little bit every day for about 2-3 months straight.
And, I must admit: I'm even missing it now. That hasn't happened in a while. But, between daily blogging, full time work, family duty, and many other things that come up on a daily basis, I know that something has to give.
That's why even though a part of me is enjoying daily blogging, I think after this 31 Days of 31 Newness project is over, I might have to find a new writing rhythm. Something that I can balance - frequent enough blogging times (hopefully, more than the once-a-week target I've set for myself), but not to the point where I can't pursue my other writing projects. I'll need to figure that out in the next few months, I think.
Oh, and in case you were wondering: The novel is a YA fantasy story. One thing that hasn't changed over the years is the name of my lead character: Aisnahelne. I call her Aisnah. She is also known as Anna Lee in the most recent versions of the story (it's part of the plot, so I can't really explain why). In my mind, this is what she looks like:
Yes, a young, royal-looking Kristin Kruek. No idea why she came to mind four years ago. She just did. And, it got stuck.
Anyway, that's all I can tell you about this for now. Until the next time I can write an update, I guess. Hopefully, by then, I'll be able to say that I've finally finished it. Or at least, have a ready-for-beta-readers draft of it.
I've written several short stories when I was younger. And, as a published author, the first fiction I've ever published were short stories. But, I haven't written one in years. I can't even remember the last time I wrote one. My suspicion is that the last short story I wrote is something called "The Light" - written after my very last heartbreak, a year or so before I met the husband. It was a short story where I killed off the guy who broke the girl's heart (yep, writing was my favourite form of catharsis - haha).
In my frustration of never ever finishing any of the novels I've started over the last couple of decades or so, I ended up thinking about writing very short fiction. Something I can put together in an anthology or something.
Holly Lisle offered a flash fiction workshop early this year and I signed up for it. And, it worked. I didn't complete five flash fiction pieces that I could put in a mini ebook anthology for sale (which was part of the goal for that workshop), but I ended up with 3 completed flash fiction pieces, a couple of semi completed story, and at least 5 new story ideas that I've fallen in love with. And, I'm hoping to revisit one day when I've allowed them to settle down in my psyche a bit longer.
All three completed stories are around the 500-words mark. One of the completed stories and one of the semi-completed stories were off-shoot stories from the novel (not included in the novel, but was part of the back story). The other two completed stories were completely unexpected, out of the blue stuff. Something I love about fiction writing.
And no, I haven't shared the stories with anyone yet either. And yes, I'm hoping to write more of these very very short stories. Even if no one else in the world would ever read them.
I've been longing to finish a screenplay for years now. I've worked on a handful over the years, but never managed to get to the finish line, ever. Not even a draft. I've managed to write stageplays and performance pieces in school and for community stuff. But, yeah - a script I can try to make into a movie? Nope.
Well, not until a couple of months ago anyway.
Yes, I've finished the draft of a screenplay, which is loosely based on a short story I've written many years ago. No idea why I thought of that. But, I figured, if I just wanted to practice writing a screenplay (totally different from writing novels and short stories - even stage plays), I might as well play around with an idea that I've already worked out in my mind. But, give it more of a 'movie flair'. Quite an interesting exercises in itself.
The short story I wrote (yes, that one actually was read by a few people - and even got optioned for a short story anthology by a publisher in Manila; I got paid but I don't think the book was ever published) --- was called "The Trade-Off" (based on another heartbreak - heh!). Looking back on it, I see that the story was very much internally-driven. There was action, but the language and writing approach were meant to be read, not acted out.
The script I wrote is titled "The Last Kiss". The concept was taken from "The Trade-off", but the story was rewritten in such a way that it was meant to be acted out. Seen on film. It was a huge learning curve for me, but I enjoyed learning. Made me wish I can actually make the movie (probably after another couple of rewrites of the script!). But, the whole idea actually excited me. I was even playing out 'trailers' and 'movie promos' in my mind.
I'm hoping to give screenwriting another go. Perhaps, one day, even write a full featured film.
Yes, I'm a dreamer.
And, I think that's why I love fiction writing. It gives me the chance to dream and to play out fantasies in my mind, on a page (or hundreds of pages!). I know now that I would like to keep doing it for as long as I can.
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.