Writing: 2013 in Review

In regards to writing, 2013 has been exciting, to say the least – most notably because TNWSY was sold, and I have an editor, and, YAY! But writing didn’t stop there. Oh no.

Actually, writing-wise, my year started out rather slow.

Project 1: I started work on a new concept early in the year, a topic very close to my heart. I learned quickly that it’s not always the easiest – or best idea – to write what you know. Every word felt forced. Writing wasn’t fun. I only accomplished about 9,000 very poorly written, really despised, words. (For comparison, TNWSY is a bit over 60,000 words.) So I put that project to sleep and immediately felt better. Will I ever go back to it? I’m not sure. I hope to one day, with a new perspective, but for now I’m happy letting go.

Project 2: I had a new, very fun idea that I was keen to work on…and work on it I did. Writing was fun again, but only for so long. At about 30,000 words I realized the story didn’t stand out at all, and it wasn’t something I wanted to tell. It wasn’t unique. It wasn’t going anywhere. I had an ending in sight, but no middle ground. I knew it wasn’t something I was proud of, and I had no ideas of ways to make it better. So, again, I gave up on it and felt better. I didn’t hate it, but I knew it wasn’t the right story for me. It just felt blah – I didn’t need to write it. Will I ever go back to it? Probably not. But it’s still saved, just in case.

Project 3: At this time, Burrow Press, a local Orlando publisher, came into the picture, Each year they put out a 15 Views of Orlando book (among other great books) where local writers contribute a different chapter. The entire book is one story, but each chapter is written by a different author, and they’re allowed to take the story in any way they want. Also, each chapter must take place at a different Orlando location. It’s really unique. Anyway, I was asked to write the final chapter, the epilogue, and jumped at the opportunity, The story was so far from anything I’d ever personally write, that the experience was wonderful. I wrote fast, and was happy with what I created. (I was also able to be in a book with my friend Jenny, which is just awesome) I loved contributing to the book, and cannot wait to see it in print. (Out in April 2014! The book is called FORGET YOU FOUND US; 15 Views of Orlando Vol. III. You can read the first chapter here.)

Project 4: Newly restored, I decided to dabble with a short story idea I had a while back, which never amounted to anything but one page. I started fresh and wrote it…in one day. Seriously. I was obsessed. It was a crazy experience; I only broke to Skype chat with a friend in the UK. So, I sent the 8,000 words to my agent, after editing it, and she liked it too (!!!), with the only suggestion to make it longer. So I did. Again, quickly, easily. Now at about 20,000 words, it’s my little novella that I love dearly. Where it goes next, we shall see…

Project 5: After that, I figured it was time to attempt another full-length manuscript. Again, I jumped on an idea that was floating around in my mind and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. I never outlined it, I just kind of decided what happened as I went. And in a weird, way, it worked. I finished it! It was not very good at first – names were all mixed up, characters weren’t fully developed, the plot wasn’t fully developed, but it was finished and I was so relieved that I could do that again. So I spent a while fixing it up and making it shiny before sending it on. To my delight, agent liked it, too, so we’re editing it now and improving it in ways I never would have thought of without her. Yay!

Project 6: While waiting for agent’s reaction on Project 5, I had a dream that inspired an idea. It was small at first, a tiny flicker, but I started daydreaming about it, and started letting my fingers tap along. I wasn’t planning on writing anything, but it just happened. I’m about 20,000 words in now and still obsessed with it. It’s the first manuscript I’ve written that i’ve needed to do a bit of research for, which I am, and it’s fun. It’s very different than my other stories, but I like that about it. I don’t want to say much now, but I can feel it turning into something, and I’m so excited to see where it takes me.

Project 7: TNWSY, of course! In the midst of all of this, I’ve been editing my book (BOOK!) with my editor (EDITOR!). It’s such an exhilarating process, and I’m thrilled to continue it through the new year.

So where does that leave me now? Continuing my edits for TNWSY, figuring out Project 4, editing Project 5, writing Project 7, and perhaps starting a Project 8 after all of that is said and done. There’s an idea there…there’s always an idea. And though I’m realistic enough to know that some projects will decline and fail as they have for me in the past, I’m still thrilled to see what grows and flourishes in 2014. So, to another year of writing and inspiration and wonder.

Reading: 2013 In Review

I read some books this year. Check them out.

  1. Peter and the Starcatchers  – Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
  2. Forgotten – Catherine McKenzie
  3. Guitar Notes  – Mary Amato
  4. Just One Day – Gayle Forman
  5. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight  – Jennifer E Smith
  6. Splintered – A.G. Howard
  7. A Visit from the Goon Squad  – Jennifer Egan
  8. The Wrap-Up List  – Steven Arntson
  9. Drama – Raina Telgemeier
  10. Eleanor & Park  – Rainbow Rowell
  11. Attachments – Rainbow Rowell
  12. Who Done It?  – ed. by Jon Scieszka
  13. Requiem – Lauren Oliver
  14. Anya’s Ghost – Vera Brosgol
  15. Friends with Boys – Faith Erin Hicks
  16. War at Ellsmere – Faith Erin Hicks
  17. Trickets – Kirsten Smith
  18. Graffiti Moon – Cath Crowley
  19. The One and Only Ivan – Katherine Applegate
  20. The Geography of Girlhood  – Kirsten Smith
  21. Where’d You Go, Bernadette?  – Maria Semple
  22. This is What Happy Looks Like – Jennifer E Smith
  23. Winger – Andrew Smith
  24. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong – Faith Erin Hicks & Prudence Shen
  25. You Look Different in Real Life – Jennifer Castle
  26. Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia – Jenny Torres Sanchez
  27. All the Summer Girls – Meg Donohue
  28. Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin – Liesl Shurtliff
  29. The Moon and More – Sarah Dessen
  30. Blankets – Craig Thompson
  31. The Book of Broken Hearts – Sarah Ockler
  32. Doll Bones – Holly Black
  33. The Next Best Thing – Jennifer Weiner
  34. The Engagements – J. Courtney Sullivan
  35. Uses for Boys – Erica Scheidt
  36. Don’t Turn Around – Michelle Gagnon
  37. Starglass – Phoebe North
  38. In the Bag – Kate Klisse
  39. Wild Awake – Hilary T. Smith
  40. When You Were Here – Daisy Whitney
  41. The Longest Holiday – Paige Toon
  42. The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren Myracle
  43. The Beginning of Everything – Robyn Schneider
  44. Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
  45. The Vow – Jessica Martinez
  46. The History of You & Me – Amanda Grace
  47. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
  48. Monster on the Hill – Rob Harrell
  49. Johnny’s GIrl – Paige Toon
  50. Horde – Ann Aguire
  51. Will & Whit – Laura Lee Gulledge
  52. Spring Awakening – Steven Sater
  53. Little Fish – Ramsey Beyer
  54. Year One – Ramsey Beyer
  55. Battling Boy – Paul Pope
  56. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  57. The Reece Malcolm List – Amy Spalding
  58. Going Vintage – Lindsey Leavitt
  59. Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth – Jenny McCarthy

Though not a published book, I’m also counting my friend Joe’s adult fiction manuscript because it was wonderful, and is currently in search of an agent. So, 60 books! Yay!

Some observations: 

If I like an author, I will immediately read everything else they’ve written (or illustrated, in regards to graphic novelists).

Speaking of, this was the year of graphic novels for me. And, not surprisingly, YA books. For the library, I’m on the summer reading booklist committee, so I have to read a bunch to see what might be a great fit for our list. Thus, quite a few listed. I might not have read them on my own, so I’m glad I was asked to check them out. And that led to my newfound love of coming-of-age graphic novels.

It’s really neat looking at my list and seeing friends on it (hi, Panera crew). And books my agent represents. And books my editor edited. So proud!

All said, my adult reading was very light this year. Whoops? I wondered what my ratio was, so I’ve decided to make a pie chart for my 2013 reads. Observe!

piechart

Fiction: 12, Non-fiction: 1, YA: 30, MG: 4, GN: 11, Play 1

I guess to make up for this, the two books i’m currently reading are both non-fiction.

I’m happy to say that i’ve enjoyed all books read this year. Some I absolutely adored and will remain top books in my heart for a while.

And now, I look forward to what 2014 will bring!

What were your reading habits for 2013? Read anything great that you think I should check out? Let me know – I love recommendations!