Camp NaNoWriMo & All That Jazz [aka: an explosion of all my craziness about my WIP]

April Camp NaNoWriMo came to a close last Monday, and I’m happy to say it was a successful month for me!

[Warning: Kat from Sparks of Ember gave me permission to just be myself here on Penprints, so the proverbial hair is coming down. Prepare yourself for a super casual post full of run-on sentences and my explosive excitement for my WIP.]

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Now, for those of you wondering what Camp NaNoWriMo is, here’s the short version: “NaNoWriMo” is slang for “National Novel Writing Month”. National Novel Writing Month is a virtual event that takes place every November where writers around the world try to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Camp NaNoWriMo takes place in April and July and has a similar idea except you can join virtual cabins with nineteen other writers where you can chat, compare your goals, word war and such. And speaking of goals, you set your goal any way you want for Camp. Lines, hours, minutes, words, pages, etc.


I had planned to continue pulling teeth working on Beasts for Camp NaNoWriMo, and I set myself a goal of 55 hours. Three days before Camp started, I decided that Beasts and I needed to take a break and come back to reevaluate our relationship after we both had some time away (why, yes, I did just refer to Beasts and I as a “we”, as if Beasts was another person and not a figment of my imagination. #unashamed) Unfortunately, at present, it seems like it’s a toxic relationship. Hopefully this detox from each other will bring us around to a better state of mind and heart. Hopefully.

So I had to scramble for a project for Camp. Should I just write a bunch of flash fictions? Finish a sci-fi short story that’s been rolling around in my head for months? Revisit Flickering Lights and finally make decisions about its fate? Not do Camp at all??

Ha. None of that happened.

Instead, I went straight for False Gods, the novel I drafted last November (during normal NaNoWriMo). Because I’d been dying to get back to it (no, I have not been mentally cheating on Beasts, hush) since December 1, 2017.

So I stowed my Beasts notes and playlist and pulled up the False Gods Pinterest board, the character playlists, and the embarrassingly rough first draft that I somehow still adore even though it’s a complete mess.

An Example Of What A Mess This First Draft Is:

*second week of NaNoWriMo 2017*

*in the midst of drafting False Gods for the first time*

*my small group was also in the midst of a study on the book of Acts and we had just finished the part where Paul is on Malta, a snake comes out of the fire, bites him in the hand, the natives expect him to swell up and die, and then he doesn’t die because God*

Me: *whining* I don’t know why this character is going on this trip with them! I don’t want him on this trip! He ruins the whole dynamic!

Daddy: What if a viper bites him, he swells up, and dies?

Me: Haha, psh. You’re cute. No, I would never do that. *laughs* That would be ridiculous.

*literally 20 minutes later*

“… So-and-so let out a sharp cry. A viper hung from So-and-so’s calf…”

And yes, this character definitely swelled up and died on the spot. Problem = solved. Don’t worry, kids. I’m a professional.

Anyway, April began with a huge bang and kept right on steamrolling. About halfway through, I lowered my goal from 55 hours to 50 hours because there were a few days when I had far better things to do than work on False Gods (and if I’m saying that about The Novel That I Love, you know it’s true).

With the help of my amazing cabin, I made it to my goal of 50 hours by the end of April, and I made so much progress!… sort of… okay, so, looking back at where False Gods was at the start of April, I’m like, “Woah!! I’ve done so much work on it! It’s come so far! Woohoo! FULL SPEED AHEAD!”… but then when I think about having spent 50 hours (50 HOURS) of work on it, I’m like, “How is this all that’s gotten done in 50 freaking hours of work??!”.

So here we are.

I’m going to briefly share a few things—we’ll  call them fun facts—that have happened with False Gods over the month of April.

  • I read and annotated the first draft.
  • Existing plot points and new plot points went on index cards and were arranged into the semblance of a plot. (Side note: why the heck do we even have plots? Who needs them? *distant sobbing*)
  • I dug into Asha (my main character who I adore) and his past, figuring out more of his history and emotional wounds and such. (Hint: hurt people hurt people, people.)
  • I dug into Adele (my secondary POV character) and her past a little more, but she’s been in my head longer than Asha, so I already knew more of her history, but I was able to smooth some things out with her.
  • Asha and Adele were classified and explored according to their personality. Asha’s a rebel according to the four tendencies and a ESTP according to the Meyers-Briggs system. Adele’s an upholder according to the four tendencies and an ISFJ according to Meyers-Briggs. (Yeah, they ended up as almost complete opposites. #oops.)
  • While working on Asha’s brain, I compiled a list of his flaws and his virtues because that’s what professionals do. It turns out that he has eight flaws and counting. His only virtue is his wicked sense of humor, which I don’t think actually counts, especially since “wicked” describes it perfectly.
  • Despite how depraved it turns out Asha is, I still like him, and I think other people will too.
  • Adele, on the other hand, has seven virtues and counting with only three flaws.
  • I cemented down some of the major history for my storyworld (particularly, Asha’s heritage).
  • I finished sorting through an entire book of baby names and compiled a complete list of characters and why they’re there.
  • I revised the first sixteen chapters (part one) of False Gods.
  • A rough map of the storyworld has been drawn.
  • I did some focused work on Adele’s POV voice and settled on a tone that suits her.
  • 47 hours into Draft Two, I finally came roaring out of the honeymoon phase with False Gods (meaning: I started to despair about how much work it needs, began to hate it, etc.).
  • 52 hours into Draft Two, I zipped right back into the honeymoon phase. (Something about these characters, people. I can’t hate them or ignore them.)
  • I realized that False Gods is indeed the correct title for this story. If you remember from my recap post from NaNoWriMo 2017, I wasn’t sure if it suited Asha’s story after I brought Adele out of her story and into his. Spoiler alert: oh, it works.
  • Speaking of Asha’s story, I also figured out that Asha is indeed my main character. One would think I would have already known this, but alas. For a while there, I wasn’t sure which of them was my main character because they both have so much at stake, are so dear to me, etc., etc.. But then I realized that this isn’t about the mortal who goes toe-to-toe with an immortal pantheon; this is about the immortal who gets defeated by a mortal. This is about a dude who actually thinks he’s a god and all the lies he believes that have to be unraveled for him to become truly great. So, yeah, that was just nice to finally get sorted out in my brain.
  • False Gods is not subtle. At all. Most of my flash fictions have been fairly indirect in how they reflect Christ. That’s not at all the case with False Gods; the themes are very direct, born from a season in my life that’s felt like a spiritual wilderness. I’ve come to terms with the fact that while I want to write subtle fiction, False Gods is just not one of those stories. It never has been, and it never will be.

Anyhoo. That was a crazy long post, and it’s not even helpful or anything like that. It’s just me spazzing my way from one thought about April and False Gods to another like a rabbit on caffeine (Out of Time series reference, yo).

Part of me is like, “Oh, this level of hyper is probably incoherent and/or annoying”, but then the rest of me is like, “Lol, do it anyway.”.

SO. This is one of the things I’m super jazzed about right now. What is something you’re excited about right now? A project? A trip? A novel?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – thanks again to Kat for telling me I don’t always “have to be on” here on the ol’ blog.

P.P.S. – don’t forget to sign-up for the 2018 Penprints Flash Fiction Dash and check out the giveaway that’s currently running.

Finishing Draft Three {somehow an excuse to post baby animal pictures}

Peeps, I did it.

I finished Draft Three (aka: The Draft That Wants to Kill Me) of Beasts. And I did it without dying, so I feel like I should get extra points for that.

And I’ve recovered ALL of my files from my dearly departed laptop due to the tireless efforts from some of my amazing church family members (needless to say, there was much relief and thanking God). Also, I kind of owe a life-debt to the people involved with the finding and preserving of said files.

Instead of telling you about Beasts itself (because that would make sense), I’m going to tell you how the last week of my life was like trying to finish this beast (oh, see what I did there?).

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To put it frankly, this draft was really hard.

Here’s a bit of backstory: Draft One was written back in 2015, and let me tell you, it was awful (is “plotless” one word or two?). A marginally better Draft Two came out in 2016, but I don’t like to speak of that draft.

Draft Three is where all the heavy lifting happened. I took about 5,000 words from Draft One, maybe 8,000 words from Draft Two, and then I scrapped the rest (yeah, that was tough). Work on Draft Three lasted six months, and all that work boiled down to this past week when I faced a hard deadline.

The Story of How I Got a Hard Deadline:

Me to me: You can’t watch Beauty and the Beast until you finish Draft Three.

Me: What? You wouldn’t?

Me to me: Wanna bet?

Then I came up against The Face of Great Distraction.

The Face of Great Distraction:

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“Hi! I’m a week old, and I have a sister and five brothers, and we’re all really adorable and make such adorable sounds, and you should love on us instead of work on your novel.” — actual words this puppy said to me.

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“Hey, I’m very needy. You need to pet me and pay attention to me and give me treats and talk to me or else I’ll be forced to jump on you to make sure you know I exist.” — Bear every single time I try to be productive.

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“I’m Boots, just an adorable goat kid with four kid cousins, and you must come see me and let me chew on your clothes and climb in your lap and dance around in goat kid happiness.” — Boots the goat kid every. single. day.

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And let’s not forget My Precious.

I knew I was avoiding my novel when Graham said to me: “Rosalie, I’ve been stalking this mouse hole for three days now. You should help me hunt this tasty morsel.”

But instead of saying: “Graham, you don’t speak English, and I have to finish this draft,” like a normal person would, I said: “Oh, great idea, Precious! I’ll bring coffee and my BB gun, and it’ll be just like old times when you were a kitten!”

After two hours of our stakeout, I had to face the reality that it was all in my head and that I needed to get back to finishing Draft Three. That’s when My Precious gave me this look:

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Um, this face. :O

Okay, I did not spend two hours on a stakeout with Graham, but let me tell you I THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

But, guys, in The Face of Great Distraction, I prevailed.

It was making coffee at 9:30 pm some nights to fuel me for a night of writing. It was getting up at 4:00 am (aka: Stupid Early) to write before work some mornings. It was coming up against all kinds of fear and hate for my story and writing anyway.

It was reviewing my outline and throwing out what no longer seemed to work. It was word wars with lovely writing friends (a shout out to Brittany, Katie, and Nadine). It was taking a break to write a flash fiction and then coming back to my novel after a week with fresh drive.

It was my sister asking “Are you going to write?”. It was sharing my wordcounts with my dad and him cheering me on. It was my mom telling me some nights that I needed to sleep instead of write because I really needed the rest and my writing would be better for it.

It was praying for God’s hand in this story more every day. It was realizing that since He’s given me the green light, I need to go, no more indecision, no more fear.

It was hard, and my novel still needs a lot more work.

There are still several more drafts to come, but it’s finally starting to look like a story. When I read it next week, it’ll probably be awful, but it’s so much better than it was.

The Draft That Wants to Kill Me is finished.

It came to just over 93,000 words (a number I hope will shrink with more editing), 33 chapters, and an epilogue.

And for those of you who have made it to the end of this babbling post, here’s an aesthetic board and then the premise of Beasts (so I guess I’m telling you a little about Beasts after all…).

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I own none of these pictures.

Premise: a retelling of Beauty and the Beast told in the words of the witch who cursed the Beast.

Let’s chat, peeps. What are your struggles with your WIP? What part of the writing process are you in right now? What are the faces of your distractions?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – seriously though, guys, Graham’s face in that last picture causes me some concern.