Do Not Resuscitate

It’s midnight. The story is starting to feel stale, the characters flat, and the world dull. The book is going to flatline. Code blue. You break out the paddles and desperately try to jolt some life back into it, dammit, but there’s no pulse, no hope. Time of death: 12:01.

Alright, maybe I’ve been watching too much Grey’s Anatomy lately (sorry not sorry) but I think every reader can relate to this. There are some books that start off great, but lose you as time goes on. Others never quite draw you in, and some books are just too awful to keep reading at all.

I’m incredibly stubborn, and it applies to books too. Maybe because I’m a writer myself, and I just hate to give up on someone’s story. Maybe I refuse to give up just for curiosity’s sake, or because each book finished feels like a small accomplishment.

But sometimes, no matter how many times I try to shock it back to life, there’s no hope. I just can’t make myself like this book enough to finish it.

In the book world, this is known as DNF, or Do Not Finish. But in my head, I think of it as DNR, or Do Not Resuscitate, because Grey’s Anatomy and it sounds so much cooler 🙂

It’s rare that I DNR a book because A: I’m stubborn and B: it makes me feel bad (guilty, sad, some combination of the two) but there are three major things that make me put a book down.

First would be voice. If I don’t like the voice of the writing, or the main character, so much so that it interferes with the story, I’ll stop reading. Second would be characters. If there’s no one I like enough to become invested in, I can’t really care about the story, no matter how cool. Last is one I find particularly in YA: same old, same old. By this I mean “____ was just a normal teen until ___” or some canned romance about shy awkward girl meeting mysterious bad boy and being incapacitated by his attractiveness. Or any cheesy, unrealistic romance in general (there’s a lot of those) or any weak female protagonist (especially when she’s weak because of a guy or love).

I’m struggling with this right now. I’m reading a book (won’t name any names) that has a pretty great story and world, but the romance is just such a heavy part of it, and it’s really just another bad teen romance where hey, we should be thinking about saving the world and everything, but we can’t because ooh, you’re so pretty so let’s just makeout some more and hope the world saves itself (gag)

So, what do you think? Are you a firm believer in reading a book to the bitter end, no matter how bad–or do you have a DNR pile as long as your TBR? Have you DNR’ed a book recently, and what made you stop reading?

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Weekend Writing Warriors #12

Thanks for sharing another 8sunday with me! This is part of a series, and a direct continuation from last week’s post (check it out here, or the rest of my posts here). To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!

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__________

The Shadow moves towards me, but I am not there–I am no one, a fragment, Thud-thud, thud.

Images flash before me, and the world falls away.

My hand grabs the torch from my pack, and lights it–my feet carry me closer to the Shadow, my teeth bared in a snarl. Instinct, only instinct drives me–I am gone, rattling empty like shards of glass in a hollowed out shell.

Still the Shadow stands there–unmoving.

But it isn’t entranced by the light, as they usually are; It isn’t terrified, running away–it’s standing there, staring at me.

I can hear voices and shouts, but they pass on the edges of my awareness–all that exists is me and the Shadow, cocooned in silence.

The Shadow tilts its head, as if studying me.

_________

This one was a bit easier to fit, so hopefully it reads better. Thanks so much for the continued feedback and support, from both WeWriWa vets and newbies 🙂 Looking forward to your posts this week, as always, and happy 8sunday!

 

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport and the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

Camp Nano: WINNER

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That’s right…I did it! *throws confetti and happy dances then collapses in a heap of exhaustion* Honestly, not sure how, but I beat my goal with one week to spare.

Word goal: 20,000

Final word count: 20,436

So now that it’s over, what do I think of my first NaNoWriMo experience?

It was definitely a roller coaster. There were moments I felt like a superhero on top of the world and others I wanted to cry and rip my hair out. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if I had gone for the full 50k. But on the other hand, I knew going into it that this month was already going to be busy and hectic in the first place, so that might have been part of it. 

CampNaNo was challenging, exciting, eye-opening, fun (sometimes), painful, exhausting, and inspiring. I think my favorite part was the community and all the awesome support. I could have never done this without NaNoWordSprints or my super awesome cabin of fellow WordPress bloggers. It was also reallycool to see how different everyone was–even within our cabin, there were some going for 10k, others for 60k. Some got stuck at low word counts, others were writing demons churning out thousands a day. But that’s what was so cool, seeing how everyone worked, seeing everyone’s struggles and accomplishments, and all of us working together towards this one goal. It really felt like a team. 🙂 

What would I say to someone who is considering a NaNoWriMo event?

Know what you’regetting yourself into. Also, know yourself and what you’re capable of. Through NaNo, you’ll probably discover you’re capable of a lot more than you thought you were, but on the other hand, don’t commit to a large word count when you know you have a busy month or hectic life already. The point of NaNoWriMo, in my opinion, is to challenge yourself. Challenge yourself creatively, become a part of this community, and have fun. There is no point in participating if you start to hate writing each day, or end up overstressing yourself, and basically just have a miserable time. 

My advice to anyone participating for the first time?

Relax. It is not the end of the world if you don’t reach your goal. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible writer and you should give it up. Everyone works differently. Some people might find out that they’re not made to write in a situation like NaNo. I found it very difficult for my writing style. And as I’ve said to several people participating this month, no matter what your word count is at the end of the month, every word is one word more than you had when you started. And that is something to celebrate, whether you’re a “winner” or not. 🙂

Would I do it again, or consider NaNoWriMo?

Honestly, after this trial, I don’t know that I could do full on NaNo. Maybe, if I had a basically free month, and really put everything else aside. But with my school schedule, I don’t know that that would be possible. CampNaNo? Absolutely. Depending on where I am at next July (hopefully it will be less busy for me next year) I would love to participate again. Mainly because of the customizable word count. I know the point is to write a book in a month, but honestly I don’t really want to write a book in a month. I know my limits, and 20k turned out to be a good goal for me. Maybe next year I’ll try 30,000, and work my way up from there. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll go for the full 50? 🙂 

There’s still a week left, but where are you at? Have you met your goal, or are you inches away from the finish line? Are you struggling to churn out those last few 1ks before the end? Would you do this again, or try it for the first time? I’d love to hear what you think! 

 

Worthy of the Week

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Hey all! Short post this week, since as you know I am in the middle of the moving. Thanks so much for stopping by, here is this Friday’s Worthy of the Week, a weekly breakdown of things worth sharing. If you like what you see, feel free to join in! Just post your link in the comments, and I’ll stop by 🙂 Check out the others here

Inspiration

For awesome character inspiration and photos like these, check out this character board.

The Witness - Character inspiration #writing #nanowrimo #face    India

Issues

Check out this powerful slam poem and video, with a message about expectations and body image that I think every girl and woman should hear.

Words of Wisdom

I think this is the one and only reason people should write. I write because there are stories inside of me, that have to come out. I write because I don’t know any other way to be.

What’s Up Wednesday

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What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, to help connect writers on this writing journey. If you’d like to join us, check out the blogs each week, get to know some of the other writers taking part, and spread some writerly love! 

What I’m Reading

Finished Altaica by Tracy M. Joyce, fantastic fantasy! (Read my review here) Also read Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo in three hours straight, it was that addicting. Ordered the next two and anxiously awaiting their arrival 🙂 Currently reading an ARC for review, Feuds by Avery Hastings.

What I’m Writing

I reached 100% of my target for CampNaNoWriMo! 20k might not seem like a lot, but it is for me considering I’ve only ever done one monthly word count goal before. It feels pretty awesome! But I am exhausted, my creativity wiped, and I’m taking a little break for a while.

What Inspires Me

Other books and authors! I’ve read a lot of fantastic ones lately, and it’s a great way to refill my creativity well. 🙂

What Else I’m Up To

Moving day is in one week! I am mostly packed, and working on some logistics for moving, the apartment, and school. Also got accepted into the honors program at my university, which is a big honor and opportunity 🙂

Have a great week!

To Build A Story: Burn Out

It’s been a while since I’ve written a To Build A Story post, so I’m sorry, but I’ve been so busy with CampNaNo, I haven’t had the time. But I promised you this series would take you along the writing journey with me, the good, bad, and the ugly, so here it is.

This month, I’ve written almost everyday, and have down 17,668 words. For me, that’s a lot. My creativity juices are spent, and I am exhausted. It’s gotten to the point where I even dread sitting down to write–and I hate that.

On top of regular CampNaNo burnout, I am over 37,000 words and am starting to enter the middle slump, otherwise known as the writing Twilight Zone.

For me, this is the hardest stage in the drafting process. Somehow, when I reach about the 35k-40k mark, all the life gets sucked out of me. The story feels dull, the characters lifeless, and each word is like pulling a tooth–and even then they don’t feel right.

I still love this story. Nightfire was love at first word for me, and has been burning consistently since then. But I think with any story, no matter how great or how much you love it, you reach this stage. The initial momentum wears off, and suddenly you have to wonder, Where is this going? Does this make sense? Do the dots connect? The rose-colored love glasses are broken.

To stave off the burnout, I’ve been reading. A lot, actually. It has been a long time since I have torn through books like a knife through butter, but it feels pretty awesome to rediscover my true love for reading. And though it started out as a break from writing, reading has also helped me to write, both directly and indirectly. Directly, it’s given me inspiration for scenes or words and phrases to use, or conflicts and actions I like. Indirectly, it’s expanded my vocabulary, sparked my imagination, and refilled my creativity well.

So, I’m still plugging along, and tearing out each word like a tooth as I go.

One thing I realize as I go, is the more I write, the more I realize how much I have left to write. I’m starting to realize that there’s a lot more to this story than I thought at first–maybe even more than just one book’s worth.

Those in the writing Twilight Zone with me, how do you keep going? Those who have made it through, how did you do it?

The Q Word

If you’re a writer, and have ever planned or even thought about publishing, you’ve likely heard the infamous Q word.

Query.

Now, deep breaths and swallow that tang of panic and dread in the back of your throat and stay with me.

When I first started, querying was terrifying. Then I did some research, practiced, and with the help and encouragement of an author friend, I sent out my first wave of queries. After writing my whole life, and two years working on Ember, I was finally doing something! I was finally pursuing my dream.

Now that I look back, I wish I hadn’t sent those queries.

Wait, what?

I’m glad I took action and started the publishing process myself, but I wish I had waited a while longer, and really practiced before I sent those first queries. Honestly, they’re embarrassing. Even though I did my research and had some help, I can clearly see why they were passed over. Not to mention, my story wasn’t nearly at the place it needed to be, which I kind of knew at the time, but was overeager that my author friend believed in me, and here was my chance!

I regret sending them without more time, practice, and revision, because now those are opportunities I’ve wasted. I didn’t understand at the time that once an agent has passed, you can’t query them with that manuscript again, no matter how drastic the changes. And most agencies, you can’t query more than one agent within that agency.

I learned quickly that there aren’t infinite agents out there, just waiting to fight over my book.

Now most of you writers are familiar with the roller-coaster ride of querying. Sometimes it feels less like a roller coaster, and more like an endless, rotating paper shredder (ouch).

This week has been one of those. I had been corresponding with an agent for two months, and was very hopeful that things would work out, but unfortunately, they didn’t. After going through that, facing the query process all over again feels a little like standing at the bottom of Mt. Everest. Naked. With no climbing gear.

Not to mention I’m still not great at queries, and hate the thought of my not-so-great query being written off before agents can ever get to read my writing. That aspect of queries has taken a lot of getting used to–how much sheer chance and luck it requires, and how very subjective it is.

I think that is also the most frustrating part of the process–how little I can control, and how little of it actually has to do with my writing. Maybe the agent doesn’t like how the query reads, or they just signed a YA fantasy the day before. Maybe they woke up and their car wouldn’t start, and they were late, and spilled coffee on their favorite shirt. Maybe your writing is really good, but dystopian/science fiction/vampire slayer memoir just isn’t selling right now.

Sometimes, it feels a little like carrying my heart around, asking someone, anyone, to love it like I do. But I have to remember, that this isn’t personal. For me, my book is my heart. For them, it’s business.

This is the hardest part about being in any creative industry–not letting the industry affect you. It’s okay for rejections to hurt, but remember that everything is subjective, and there are a dozen other factors that go into that rejection, some of which have nothing to do with your writing at all. Someone said that they love rejections, because each one is like a big sign, saying “Not here. Maybe over there,” pointing you that much closer.

It’s hard not to let it affect me, because I want it so bad. This is my life, my dream, and the possibility that this might not ever happen terrifies me sometimes.

But then, little things like a comment on my post saying, “I totally need to read this book” or my author friend telling me that there are big things ahead for me, or a fellow writer my age who is just as new to this as I am, getting signed by an agent.

It does happen–it will happen.

In the mean time, I’ll keep writing these stories for me, because I love them–and hope that one day, I’ll get to share them, and you can love them as much as I do.