Do you find yourself unable to finish a story? Do you get half-way through and lose your interest in it? Do other ideas sound more appealing?
What if I was to tell you that what you feel is perfectly normal? It’s a phase that every writer goes through when they reach a certain point in the story, usually about half-way or three-quarters of the way through. Sometimes it can happen earlier if you don’t write on a daily basis and keep your mind engaged in the story. As writers, our minds move a mile a minute, always searching for the next story, and new ideas feel like a brand new toy.
But that doesn’t mean the story you are writing now is boring or that it isn’t any good; so, don’t let your excitement for that new idea make you think that your current one sucks. I can tell you 100 percent that if you stopped your old story and started the new idea, you’d have the exact same problem mid-way through when another idea came your way. Ideas never stop, so write it in an idea book and stay the course, my dear writer. Your new idea will still be there when it comes time to write it.
Once you learn the pattern and phases a writer goes through, it gets easy to continue on the journey instead of giving up. And once you finish one story, it gets easier to finish the next. But if you keep giving up, you build a pattern too…one of never finishing what you start. And you don’t want that to be you.
It’s the same with any goal really. After doing something for a while, the initial excitement ebbs and other things look more fun; but, if you push through it and keep writing, you’ll make it to the end. Be stubborn!
For the last 20 days, I’ve been hard at work tackling Nanowrimo. This has been a goal of mine for the last four years, but I’ve never attempted it until now. What is Nanowrimo? It’s basically a challenge for writers; where you have to write 50k words in the month of November to win. The idea is to write a novel quickly, but anyone who writes knows how easily life can get in the way. There’s work, chores, family, shopping, spouses, internet and whatever else you can think of that detracts from your free time.
In previous years when I thought of trying Nano, I was always in the middle of another project or, well, I just chickened out. I’m a mom of four(three at home), who works fulltime, so finding time to write can be tricky. Now, I could have just let this year be another one of those years, but I said no, “This time I’m gonna do it.”
I already had a few novels under my belt, along with a few short stories, so I knew that I had the ability to follow through on a goal; but, this type of goal required me to write every day, which was not something I was doing, especially not over the last year. We’ve had a lot of hardships over the last year, and that’s not including the trials we’ve had with Covid affecting our world.
If I was going to do this, I had to dig deep inside of me and bring out the person that I knew was hiding in there. The one who had finished goals before and never let anything get in the way. No matter how tough life is, I needed to show myself that I could do it. And like I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I’m all about setting a daily goal and keeping it.
So exactly how many words do you need to write every day to reach 50k words in a month: 1,667. Now that isn’t a lot to some writers, but when you have a crazy life, that can be a challenge. I wasn’t going to let that deter me though. I was determined to see this goal through to the end.
When I’m in a good writing grove, I would usually write 1500 words a day between Monday-Friday and wouldn’t write anything on the weekends, except social media posts. But that wasn’t good enough for this type of challenge. I had to up my game. And to be honest, I wasn’t even sure that was possible as I haven’t written much all year, and near the end of the year, I lost the job that really allowed me time to write. That was a devastating loss.
Life had changed so much for me that I either could hide my head under a pillow or change with it. I decided it was time to pick myself back up and this was just the way to do it. I made it my mission to write 1700 words a day, overshoot the goal. The question was, exactly how badly did I want it? Unless you’re determined, the chances of completing what you set out to do is unlikely. You need to believe it’s possible.
Below you can see my daily word count as the month progressed, culminating at today, November 20, 2020.
Some days I didn’t write as much, but I did manage to stay above my daily goal. Of course, that meant that sometimes we had dinner late, easy meals, takeout. Sometimes the dishes piled in the sink(Okay, that one was not so good*lol*). My son, Ethan, helped us not get buried under a whack load of them. And now that the goal is done, I’ll be doing a deep clean of my house, which somewhat looks like a tornado ripped through it. Clean laundry is piled on our loveseat, having just been plunked there after the dryer was finished. I did manage to get garbage out on a regular basis, so I had that going for our house. Haha.
Really though, I wanted to prove to myself that there was still a writer inside me somewhere, even when the world is crazy. I wanted to prove to my kids and others that you can do anything you set your mind to, as long as you are willing to do the work it takes to get there. It won’t always be easy. Sometimes it will feel almost impossible, but that’s what separates the doers from the dreamers. Doers keep doing even when the way seems dark. Dreamers just keep dreaming…
Congrats to all the Nanowrimo winners out there! What’s your dream? Share it in the comments below.
Here’s the opening to my Nanowrimo story, “Resurrection Hour: Hidden in Ice.” This is a rough first draft, so you’ll see it in all it’s raw glory. *lol*
Xavier stared at the young woman, who couldn’t be more than eighteen, walking towards him on the tarmac. One woman and man followed in her wake, carrying all the luggage, while all she carried was a backpack. She couldn’t be who they were expecting, but, for some reason, the description he was given fit her to a T—bright red hair peaked out of her parka.
When she stopped in front of him, his heart did a triple thump as her vibrant green eyes locked with his. There was something otherworldly about them, and he found himself at a loss for words. He couldn’t see much else, but it was enough.
“You must be Xavier. Hi, I’m Doctor Hannah Fraser,” she said, shoving her gloved hand at him. “And these are my assistants Cheryl Blakely and Flynn Peters.”
He stared at it mindless a moment before he cleared his throat, trying to get his mind back on track. The last thing he could afford was getting distracted. Being the head of security it was his duty to keep everyone safe, and get the doctor inside before they froze to death. It was 30 degrees below zero. Far too cold to stand out there and do idle chitchat.
“It’s nice to meet you.” After shaking her hand, he gestured towards the door a hundred feet behind him. “Right this way.” Xavier shivered as a chill blew underneath his hood, ruffling his dark brown hair. It was one of those colors somewhere in between black and brown that could be one or the other. It gave him a hell of a time filling out security applications or driver’s licenses.
Punching in the security code at the door and opening the door, he allowed them to enter first. Once the door was closed, he turned to face the newcomers. They were now in a small foyer, not any larger than a small bedroom. There was a desk on one side with a computer. Xavier pulled off his jacket and hung it on a hook in the corner before sitting down.
“I’ll need to see your identification.” He sat there patiently while they dug in their bags.
Hannah placed her bag on the edge of the table and pulled out a make-up bag, a small bag of medicine, two books-romance by the looks of it, and a bra. He glanced up at her and noted her cheeks turned a pretty hue of pink, making him grin. He couldn’t help but wonder if she was wearing a bra under all her clothes.
She chuckled nervously and continued digging through her bag’s contents. “I know it’s in here somewhere.”
In the meantime, her companions handed him their id’s. They had flown up from Vancouver, British Columbia. She was well-known in her paleontology field, which in a way surprised him. By appearance, he wouldn’t have pegged her for a doctor. She was someone who could have had her face splashed on a magazine, or even snagged a rich sucker to pay her way.
A shiver rippled through him and he pushed the thought out of his mind. He wasn’t going to go there. He’d transferred up here to get away from the memory of Catherine. Away from her bleeding him dry and ruining his life. What was Hannah trying to escape from?
“Ah ha! Found it. I must have put it in my suitcase when I was trying to find my notes.” She handed him her license and he couldn’t help but take a peek at her date of birth. He looked between her and the ID. There was no way she was twenty-eight. “I know. I know. I look sixteen, right?”
“I was going to say eighteen, but ya.”
After checking everything over, he leaned over and pulled out their access cards from the bottom drawer. With a few clicks on the keyboard, their cards were activated. “Your cards will give you access into your rooms, as well as any medical and research rooms within the facility.”
“Funny to have such high security in the middle of nowhere,” Flynn, one of Hannah’s assistants, commented.
“You can never be too careful, even out here. We have at least two hundred people in this facility and sensitive information.” That included his twelve man security team who covered all six floors. Not much has happened since he joined, so it was a nice quiet job.
“Speaking of which, has the specimen arrived?” Hannah asked, her eyes sparkling with excitement.
“One second.” Xavier picked up his radio and contacted one of his teammates to man the desk while he showed the newcomers around, and then responded to her question. “It should arrive later today.”
“Were you apprised of its condition?”
“They don’t tell and I don’t ask.”
She tilted her sweet head to the side and studied him. “You aren’t the least bit curious?”
Truth be told, when he first started here, he wanted to know everything. But they had enough on their plate without knowing every little thing, and the director didn’t like them prying into the research.
He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not paid to inquire.” The less he knew the better because then he wouldn’t get accused of taking something if it disappeared or was misplaced. If it posed a threat that would be a different story, but a fossil frozen in ice was the least of his worries. They had the proper isolation rooms on the research floor to separate it from the rest of the population of Finley’s Research Station.
“I don’t think I could do that,” she said. “I like to know every detail.”
“Makes sense. You wouldn’t be a doctor if you didn’t like to know what makes things tick.”
As they were talking, one of his men walked in, dressed in their usual attire- white shirts with a security logo on the front and Finley’s Research Security on the arm patches, along with black pants and polished black shoes.
“Man the desk, please. I’m going to show Dr Fraser and her associates around the station.”
“Sure thing,” his buddy replied, taking up a position behind him.
Xavier nodded towards him, then turned his attention back to the newcomers. “We’ll put your luggage in your room before we do the grand tour.”
“Can we have 30 minutes to freshen up? It’s been a long flight,” Cheryl asked, her wavy hair standing on end from static after pulling off her toque. He fought to suppress a grin. It looked like she stuck her finger in a light socket.
He looked at his watch. “We might just have to wait until after dinner for the tour then because Director Adams wants to see you in the conference room in an hour.”
Pushing the chair back from his desk, he stood up and moved over to the sliding door. He pulled his access card from his pocket and held it in front of the scanner before punching in the code. The sliding doors opened and they walked into a hallway. To his left was a set of stairs that led down to the lower floors.
“You have two options. We can take the stairs or the elevator. Your pick.” He pointed down the long hallway to the elevator.
They had a pile of gear, so they opted for the elevator, even if it took them farther away from their room. As they walked down the hall, a square black case that Cheryl had stacked in her arms started to slip off.
“Oh no!” she cried as it tumbled towards the ground. Xavier snatched it out of the air, pulling it safely into his arms. Cheryl let out a visible sigh of relief. “Thank you so much.”
Instead of piling it back on top, he opted to carry it. By the look on Hannah’s face, the girl would have been up the creek without a paddle if whatever was inside broke. She held herself together though and didn’t say a word.
It didn’t take long for them to head down to the second floor. They walked halfway down the corridor and turned to the left, then a short bit later turned to the right. “Geez, this isn’t confusing at all,” Hannah said with a wry grin.
“Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it. We’re essentially a great big square and if you get lost, there are security phones along the outer hallways-one in each corner.”
Xavier stopped in front of a room. “Dr. Fraser and Mrs. Blakely, this is your room. Flynn will be sharing a room next door with one of our resident engineers, Levi White.”
“Please, it’s just Miss Blakely. I’m not married,” she made a point of saying, as she fluttered her eyelashes at him.
Xavier smiled. “Duly noted.” Cheryl was a cute little thing, but she wasn’t his type. Besides, he had no interest in pursuing a relationship while stationed out here. They may be in the middle of nowhere and fun activities were slim to none, but he was here to do a job and that’s it. Anything else complicated things more than they needed to be right now.
Hannah swiped her card on the reader and stepped inside the room after the doors slid open, placing her gear on the table before turning to him. “If I need to speak to you specifically, where will I be able to find you?”
“Our main office is on the main floor where we came in, to the right of the elevator. I’m there from 0800 to 1600.”
“Good to know.”
“Well, I’ll leave you to it.”
Hannah nodded her head and then turned to Cheryl. “Did you want the washroom first or me?”
Special visitors to the island were given the best suites, which had a full bathroom, as opposed to the normal crew which only had a sink and toilet inside theirs. Only the director and assistant director had the same. Xavier didn’t really mind. It’s not like he had any entertaining plans.
Stepping out of the room, he allowed the doors to close behind him. Just as he was about to head back to the front his radio squawked. “Alpha-1 to Delta-1, the elevator has malfunctioned. The Director is inside. Repair crew has been dispatched.”
This article is a continuation of the Achieving Your Dream blog posts…
My dream started when I was a kid; but, of course, at the time, I didn’t really think it could go anywhere. Kids couldn’t do anything, right? You just go to school, come home, do chores, homework, play sports, and hang out with friends—the typical childhood life.
But, I experienced something that I hope you, my dear reader, never had to experience. I was bullied. When I was growing up, we lived in Port Alberni. One year, my parents decided that they no longer wanted to live in the city, and we moved out to the country. This meant that I would start my Grade Three year in a new school. Before this point, I had no negative experiences that I could recall, aside from failing my first attempt at Grade Three. The teachers and my family decided that I wasn’t catching on to things fast enough and felt that another year would help me out.
Anyway, shortly after I started at my new school, the kids had me pegged as someone not worth hanging out with. So, I’d just sit by myself and read. Since I had a lot of time to myself, I’d also bring my bible to school to read. When the other kids saw this, I became more of an outcast. I can remember the kids asking me to read it out loud to them, and as I was reading, they would laugh and giggle. Needless to say, I stopped doing that pretty quickly. They would call me names; throw spit-wads; pull my hair. You name it.
If any new kid joined the school, they would quickly be told not to hang out with me or they’d have the same fate. So they would either join in on the teasing or just stay away from me. I was called an ugly dog and my self-esteem plummeted. And as time went on, the bullying even became physical, so much so that the police had to get involved.
This carried on until my 12th year in high school. Our city had about 22,000 people roughly and only 1 high school. That meant all the kids that tormented me in my earlier grades joined me in high school. There was nowhere else I could go. But I’m grateful for the four girls who befriended me during those years and the library clubs.
Back then, we didn’t really have the internet like we do now. Social media didn’t exist, so class bullies couldn’t get to me at home. And during the time we lived in the country(between my Grade Three and Grade Six year), we didn’t have a full cable package either, so we had to find other things to do with our time. I signed out an endless supplies of books from the library. I can remember reading Sweet Valley Twins, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and whatever other book I found enjoyable. I just devoured them.
It was between grades 3-6 that I found out that I loved to write. I loved to tell stories because it allowed me to dream of better times, away from the harsh reality of bullying. I’d write about being a famous pro hockey player or a teenage mutant ninja cat(yes, I wrote fan-fiction about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). I could be the popular kid that everyone loved, or a mermaid, or a musician. Anything you name it. Being able to dream through my stories gave me hope, a belief that there was a life beyond the bullying.
There were times, when living out in the country, that I would sit on the railing of our porch in the back of our house and write. Poetry was my go-to genre when I was particular upset or sad. My emotions would pour out onto the page, and it would help me feel better. It was my release—my healing power. Bottling things up inside never ended well, so all my anger and pain was focused on something constructive instead of destructive.
But never did I think that my newest passion would ever become anything more at that age. As mentioned earlier, there was no worldwide internet. There were no writing websites, like Wattpad and Raddish. There were no eBooks. If you wanted to publish anything, you had to send an actual paper copy to a publisher. It was one of those seemingly impossible dreams. But I was okay with that because I didn’t write to get published, it was a way of life for me—a way of coping with the difficult times.
Since my mind was always active and very rarely quiet, I had a difficult time sleeping at night. My method for falling asleep was to tell myself a story in my head, which I would end up writing down the next day. I guess writing has always been in my blood, my passion.
I dare say that every kid has a passion for something. Sometimes, to us parents, it can seem unachievable and we try to get them to think more realistically, but we need to let them explore because that’s what life is all about. My oldest son was always fascinated with diseases right from when he was little. He’d read about them endlessly, and often tried to talk to his teachers about them, and they’d freak out because it was almost like he was obsessed with them, and they didn’t think it was healthy. Sometimes he even knew more than the teachers did . It was his passion. Today, at 28 years old, he is working on becoming a pharmacologist.
If only we could all learn how to tap into that passion when we’re young and utilize it. I believe we’re all given a gift that ties in with our passion. Take Akiane Kramarik, for example, she is an art prodigy and started drawing complex, realistic paintings before she even turned ten. I don’t mean stick people. I mean full-on realistic looking paintings of people that would blow your mind.
I think we vastly underestimate our kids today and their potential because we have gotten too used to underestimating ourselves and what we’re capable of. We project that onto our own kids, leaving them with the thought that maybe their dreams are too impossible. Having been bullied, I didn’t have too much confidence in myself and that affected my choices in life.
Despite writing a lot as a kid, I didn’t officially write my first novel until I was about 26 years old, and it was more than a decade later before it saw the light of day and was actually published. My first book was published two months after I turned 40. And now I look back and tell myself, what could I have accomplished had I believed in myself?
You see, after I wrote my story, I was so excited that I shared it in a critique group on yahoo. In my mind, I’d written a gem of a story and thought it was going to wow everyone (new writer dreams *lol*). Wrong. They tore it to itty bitty pieces, and it broke my heart.
After that experience, I put the story away for a few months. But eventually, I had the courage to pull it back out and really examine it, taking into careful consideration their critiques. I realized that much of what they were saying was right, so I re-wrote my story.
When I finished it a second time, I attended a writers’ Conference and had the chance to pitch my book to one of the Big Five, and the gentleman said that I could send him my full manuscript. I was over the moon, elated like you wouldn’t believe. Excited that someone seemed to like my story idea, especially after the critique group tore even the idea itself apart.
Anyway, not long later, I received a rejection in the mail. I don’t think anything hurts as much as that first publisher rejection, especially when you just found the courage to let someone else read it after an earlier rejection. With my low self-esteem, and ultimately two rejections, I just gave up my passion and threw all my focus into my young family—I was a married, mother of four. That was in 2006.
It wasn’t until 2016 that my passion came back to life with the help of a writing/reading website called, Wattpad, which my daughter introduced me to. She happened to find it and was writing a story on it, and I thought I’d check it out. One could never be too careful as a parent. After I joined the site and began to explore, my passion began to burn inside me again. That’s when I pulled my story back out of the dusty recesses of my usb drive, and I started to read it again.
Having been away from it for so long, a decade, I was able to approach it as a reader and could see everything that I needed to improve, so I started working on it again. Re-writing what I had to and editing everything else. As I started to share it, it took off and people seemed to love it. That’s when I learned that every story will have an audience, and every story will have people that don’t like it.
One of the ladies on the website knew of romance publisher and told me that I should submit it. After much debate with myself, I sent it off again. This time through email (yippy, I no longer had to send a papercopy, which I did the first time *lol* That was far too expensive). After one agonizing year, and a couple of emails back and forth, I received the wonderful acceptance email from Black Velvet Seductions.
I was finally going to be a published author. That was something I couldn’t believe. The dream that started when I was a kid was finally coming to fruition. My first novel, “Her Lover’s Face,” was published in February of 2018. My second novel was published in 2019, and there are many others in the editing stage.
Aside from my novels, I also have 8 short stories published in anthologies. I have to admit that I am partial to an anthology called, “Slow Burn: The Fires That Bind Us,” released by Little Quail Press, which was created to help support the first responders in Australia after the Wildfires ravaged their countries. All the proceeds will be donated to the NSW Rural Fire Service. This anthology will only be up until May, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, I hope you will and support our hard working men and women.
Everyone needs support, especially when life gets away from us, which can often impact our drive or ambition to follow after our dreams. Sometimes, it’s our own mind that gets in the way. But that’s when we have to be stubborn and not let anything hold us back. We need to stay determined and keep on the path that will lead us to our dreams. I’ve learned that there is a good and bad side to being stubborn, and a good and bad side to being determined. We don’t always use determination and stubbornness in a good way, and it can hamper us rather than guiding us forward.