Yep, you read that right, folks. All the sleepless nights have paid off because as of 4-ish in the morning today, I have officially turned in my #StrangeLit manuscript! *insert canned applause here*
Now to be completely honest, I didn’t think it would happen. Somewhere along the way, I’d already thought of throwing in the towel and cheering everyone else on Twitter, but I’m really glad I decided to soldier on and put in several hundred words per day until my story’s roadblocks were cleared by a goddamn motorcycle. I’ll probably elaborate on that someday, maybe when the book bundles have come out and are accessible to readers–that’s going to happen really soon, and I’m really excited!–but for now let me save that story for another day and tell you all about what I learned in this class.
(The #StrangeLit Edition)
- A keystroke a day keeps the writer’s block away. I think it was fellow classmate Ysa or Maddie who tweeted that one time, suggesting we should put in at least a couple hundred words per day so that by the deadline I would have something that meets the required word count. At the time, to be able to meet the minimum 5K, I needed to write at least 250 words every day. Considering I write rather lengthy prose, that shouldn’t have been a problem, but I still struggled with it. But I also kept in mind Ms. Kate Evangelista‘s words of wisdom: (Not verbatim) “Write first. Edit later.” In aiming so much for perfection, there’s that tendency to not write anything at all, because “What if people hate it?” or “Ugh, this is not how I want it to sound!” But if we don’t write anything, what is there to improve? I kept pushing myself to churn out words every single day, thinking of that advice. When I get to 5K, I thought, I’m going to make sure this all makes sense. And I did get to 5K. I even got to 15K, if you could believe that. And all because I kept writing even when I felt like everything I typed read like shit. (So is my final manuscript not shit? Well. That’s subjective.)
- Talking to a friend helps. Three weeks to deadline, my highschool kabarkada TDR slept over at our house, and I told her I’m in dire need of someone to bounce ideas off of. She graciously accepted my challenge, and we stayed up till the wee hours of the morning talking about the characters I’ve crafted in my head, what I want to do with the story, character motivations, etc. It was a very enlightening thing, to be really honest. So enlightening that she inspired me to write my opening paragraphs right after that talk. It was a very different opening from the original I’d been planning, mind you, but it turned out to be much better. Maybe I’ll acquire her help for the next novella, haha.
- Sometimes, characters surprise you. Let them. There are some who don’t believe that a character can actually dictate something in your story because as an author, it is you who has control over these characters. But sometimes my characters surprise me with backstories that have never crossed my mind before, or wild hairstyles, or a motorcycle–and I’m very, very thankful for that. (Yes, even if I felt so gigil over the character because HOW DARE HE BE SO HOT ALL OF A SUDDEN?) Just when I thought I’d be finishing my story with a mere 6-7K, this character said, hey . . . tell my story, let’s make this more fun. And I did. And I had a lot of fun.Con: Now I have a crush on this character, and I want to slap his face, then kiss it.
- Write the next book. Time and again I’m reminded that writing can somehow be likened to playing an instrument. If you practice it regularly, you’ll end up forgetting what you already know, or completely lose the passion you have for it. Then you pick up from where you left off and find yourself struggling once more and it’s a frustrating cycle to begin again. Write the next book. Learn from that. Write the next and learn again. Write, write, write. It’s such a simple advice, but it makes a whole lot of sense. Thank you, Mina, for reminding and encouraging us to write the next book. I’m pretty sure a lot of us will. Count me in.
My #StrangeLit progress, in pictures:
1 week ago. 2 weeks ago, the IG tag is wrong. >_> Yup, a measly 2K+ words. I knew what I wanted for this story, but I didn’t know how to build an actual bridge from Point A to Point B.
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#StrangeLit draft now at 4,455 words. I just started Act 2 but I went back and started editing the first three chaps (which was a no-no but ugh! Couldn't help it!) and now I'm sleepy and have to put this off for another day. Have I told you our deadline is the 31st for the last 3 pages? Yeap. I need to sprint the shit out of this. #amwriting
There’s a little progress there, but even if I was nearing the minimum word count, I was nowhere near the climax of the story. It got frustrating. I ate a lot of nuts.
And then Tim happened. And I spazzed to my #ClingyGirls on Viber about how he just blew my mind. I couldn’t sleep even after I’ve called it a night. I was itching to write, but my body needed to rest.
Final week. I started using MyWriteClub which allowed me to sprint perhaps a total of 3-5K words within several hours. There’s just something pressuring seeing a clock ticking on screen while you type.
When I hit this word count, I thought, “I’m going to try hitting 15K so I can say I wrote a novella.” Ended up with 15,332 words in total. *tears of joy*
At the #StrangeLit F2F class today, only a few of us were able to attend. There were two who submitted shortly after the class ended and we applauded them, just like everyone applauded for everyone else who was able to finish their manuscripts. I could tell that some of us severely lacked sleep (and I felt so sad the pantry didn’t have hot water because COFFEE!!!) but there was no denying the good vibes being passed all around. I love this group. <3
Congratulations #StrangeLit finishers! I can’t wait to read all these titles!
There’s #HeistClub coming up in November–a writing workshop for the crime/suspense/thriller genre–which I won’t be joining as an author, but I am very willing to be a beta reader for any of the participants, God willing. But before that, let me share these #StrangeLit badges I made for all the participants, finishers, and of course, mentors. ^_^ Feel free to use them on your blogs/websites if you want!
(for proud finishers)
(for the newly dubbed #StrangeLate authors)
(my little way of saying “Thanks for everything! <3”)
Finally–what’s next for me after #StrangeLit is to get just a bit of rest. I have several Filipino-authored books waiting to be read in my phone (Buqo app, yes!) and on my shelves, and I’d like to get a headstart on that before the #JustWritePH blog tour which I’ve signed up for begins. I am still mulling over a supplementary series of stories for my #SparkNA novel, accompanying pieces to two #TalesFromTheMetro stories I’ve submitted so far, and a possible continuation to my #StrangeLit novella as well. That, and I am currently caring for two plot bunnies I’d love to start writing soon.
It has thankfully been a very productive year so far in this aspect of my life, and I don’t think I’m slowing down anytime soon. ^_^