A mental image for your consideration: It is 11:36 at night. The room is dim, with the only light coming from out-of-season Christmas lights strung around the perimeter of the ceiling. On the desk is a half-empty bowl of Goldfish crackers and a bottle of strawberry-kiwi flavored water. Someone is sitting at the desk, shoulders hunched over the keyboard in front of her. She types for a few minutes, then snatches a handful of Goldfish crackers absently and stuffs them into her mouth. The typing resumes.
If you could picture that, you probably have a pretty good idea of how I’ve spent several of my nights over the past few weeks. But before I go into the details of what I’ve been working on lately, let’s do a quick recap of everything that’s led up to this point.
Alright, I know last week I skimmed over my goals for 2020, and that included a handful of writing goals, but I promise this is different! I want to take a closer look at my “Quest” fantasy project and where I want to take it this year. I’ve spent a lot of time planning and plotting over the past month, and I feel like I’m ready to approach this project once again.
With the amount of writing that I’ve been doing over the past year, I probably would’ve murdered a whole forest with the amount of paper I would have used, and that would be a shame. Fortunately, we live in a digital age, and so my projects live on in Scrivener files and Evernote notes, and I can continue looking out my bedroom window at trees.
I don’t say that to sound all proud or anything. Yeah, I did write a lot this year, but if we’re being honest, a lot of that writing was experimental, nothing that actually went anywhere. A lot of it was also writing for this blog, so I’ll leave you to judge the quality of that (don’t tell me, I’d like to live in my ignorance on this one). Oh, and there was a lot of academic writing too, which… well, again, I guess it’s more for my professor to decide whether it was good or not.
All this to say, looking back over the past year, I think my writing and I have had a pretty great 2019! I can see the ways that I’ve grown as a writer, honing my voice and experimenting with new genres. I’ve expanded my influences too by discovering new favorite books, shows, and other stories in a lot of different mediums. In light of it being the end of the year, I wanted to look back through what I’ve done as a writer this year, and look ahead to what 2020 might have in store for me!
If you see a scattered pile of computer paper and hear muffled noises coming from underneath it, I promise it’s not haunted. It’s just one of us senior writing students, buried underneath our overwhelming major projects.
Truth be told, my senior seminar project is actually going pretty well. I’m on track in terms of my word count, and it seems like the story is moving along at a nice pace. I covered what my major project is about in my last Writer’s Life post, but here’s a quick recap: I’m writing an “alternate history” novel set in 1968. It features two young women (a college student and a journalist) as they investigate several U.S. soldiers who have mysteriously disappeared in their home country.
As of this writing, I’m at 26,783 words just over halfway to my word count goal 50,000. I’m also a little more than halfway to my deadline of November 30 (remember, I started mid-October). In other words, things are right on track and as long as nothing wild happens (knock on wood), I should reach my goal no problem.
Big-picture-wise, it looks like things have been smooth sailing, but this project has been more complicated than that. I’ve fallen behind a few times, though I always manage to recover within a few days. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of great help – I have a writing program that keeps me organize, fellow writer who encourage me, and music that keeps me motivated.
Today, I’m participating in the Language of Worlds linkup, hosted by Liv K. Fisher. If you’re unfamiliar with the linkup, every two months Liv posts 10 questions for bloggers to answer about their writing projects, characters, or the writing life in general. It’s great for getting to know your story better and connecting with other bloggers, so go check it out! It’s open to anyone.
Not long ago, I shared that I’m working on a new writing project for my senior capstone class, an “alternate history” story set in 1968. You can read more about it here, but today, I’m going to be talking about one of my main characters, Valerie “Val” Harris.
It was a dark and stormy night. A young woman sat at her desk, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The light from her laptop reflected off of her glasses as she frantically typed away at her keyboard, desperate to meet her word goal. Her workshop is counting on her, she reminded herself. And so is her grade point average.
If that’s not a glimpse of my past, then it’s definitely a prophecy about my future.
This semester, I’m taking a “senior writing seminar” course and our big assignment is to plan and complete some type of writing project. For me, I’m plotting out and writing 50,000 words of a novel. In addition to fiction, I know there are also students writing literary non-fiction and graphic novels.
So yeah. Lots of pretty neat stuff is happening in Writing Seminar.
I’m sure you’re thinking by now, “Maggie, what is YOUR project about? We’re all dying to know!” Or maybe you’re not thinking that, which I understand. But if you actually are dying to know about my project, keep reading!
To make a long story short, I was on a student leadership retreat last weekend fighting mosquitos, so I didn’t have a chance to write a blog post as usual. Instead, I’m participating in the Language of Worlds linkup, hosted by Liv K. Fisher.
If you’re unfamiliar with the linkup (since I’ve only done it once before), Liv posts 10 questions every two months for bloggers to answer about their writing projects, characters, or writing life in general. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m excited to participate again and talk about my fantasy work in progress, codenamed “Quest.”
Back in October 2018, I entered a short story contest held for the Blimey Cow patron community (or “cowmoonity,” as we call it). Our prompt was to write a story with the following elements:
Theme: “Things are not as they seem”
Music should be featured prominently
Including one of the following: a broken television, a cobweb, or a cassette.
So I decided to enter the contest, and ended up winning three of the five categories (Best story, best character, and best overall). To be honest, I was totally surprised and honored to be one of the finalists (let alone a winner)!
Since then, the story was accepted for publication in my school’s literary journal, The Peregrine Review. Since I spend most of my time working on larger writing projects, I’ve become rather proud of this little story and how far it’s come. Since I mentioned it a few times recently, I thought today would be a good time to share it!
Read on to check out my short story, “Time After Time.”
It’s every college student’s favorite time of the semester, and by favorite I mean that we have a week and a half of classes left before exams and it seems like everything is due all at once.
Anyway, in between working on research papers and rewriting the end of Jane Eyre, I’ve spent the past month starting the rewrite of my fantasy project. The working title for this project is Quest, though I have been playing with some more official ones… but I’ll save them for another day.
I set my goal to write 25,000 words by the end of April, or about 850 words a day, give or take. I knew that wouldn’t complete my story by any stretch, but I wanted to hit the ground running and get off to a good start before life got too busy. Fortunately, I did reach my goal on April 26, which has given me some breathing room to complete my other responsibilities.
Anyway, as part of my big writing push this month, I’ve been sharing my favorite lines on Twitter every day. I did it as a way of motivating me, because sometimes when you write a lot in a short period of time, you get frustrated with the quality of your work. And yes, I know that a lot of what I write will be cut and revised and altered in the future, but I wanted to appreciate the parts that I do like, as a reminder that there is still some good that comes out of this first draft (other than it being written, of course).
So as April is coming to a close, I thought I’d celebrate what I accomplished this month and share a few of those favorite lines here. Most of them don’t have context, but hey, that’s part of the fun!
I’ve got Camp NaNoWriMo on the brain lately, so I’ve decided to do something fun today to share the project I’ll be working on starting next month.
As you may recall, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in November 2017 with a fantasy project I called “Quest,” mostly because it was inspired by other fantasy quest narratives I enjoy, like The Legend of Zelda series. Even though I completed that 50,000 word draft (and learned a lot from it), I’ve since decided to scrap it and start again from the beginning. Not the beginning beginning – I’ll be keeping the same world, characters, and much of the same ideas, but I’m reworking the plot and making it a better story.
One of my less-explicitly-stated goals for 2019 is to complete a draft of what I hope will be the first book in a series. Since November will probably be a crazy time for me – it’ll be my senior year, after all – I plan to use Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July as my intense writing sessions, but also allow myself to write in between.
All that to say, I recently rediscovered an older blog post of mine called “The Six Question Character Challenge,” where I shared a bit about the three main characters of my “Summertime” project. Since Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, I thought I’d do it again with the three main characters from Quest! I’ve written posts about them in the past, so I’ll link those as well in the post.