Writing Challenge: Day 19

Today I wrote 3500 words. My total is 53,222 which is 1124 over my target. Hopefully I can get even more written tomorrow. The weekends are so hard to get words on the page that if I can bank a few during the week I might not get so far behind.

I had a moment today where I simply hated this WIP. It’s too long. There are too many characters. There are so many plot points and they need to be connected into an inevitable trail of a story. This afternoon it didn’t feel like I could do that. So I drove to the store, grabbed a Coke and an indecent amount of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and went back to it.

Maybe it was the chocolate. Maybe it was the caffeine, but I reminded myself that this is a 1st draft. They are supposed to be horrible. True, this may be the worst 1st draft I have ever written, but the goal here isn’t to create a perfect novel. It’s to give me something to work with with.

So I plowed through the doubts. I decided not to think about all the words and characters I may have to cut in the end. That’s all for the editing. And no matter if you take the NaNo-approach of get it on the paper and edit later, or the edit while you draft approach that allows for less editing time later, you need to remind yourself that it does not have to be perfect. It shouldn’t be perfect. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in the doubts of how good it is. Just get it done and fix it later.

Status Sheet 10192017

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Writing Challenge: Day 18

I wrote 2155 words today, missing my word count goal, but since I wrote extra yesterday it more than made up for it. My total is now 49,722 which is 366 words over my goal.

I definitely could have written more today—despite the big chunk in the middle of the afternoon for Pumpkin Day—but I had another commitment this morning that I don’t want to miss. Every week I write my representatives. Some of you may already know that, but it’s not something I’m willing to sacrifice. Not in today’s political climate. Maybe not ever again. I—and the rest of this country—have been too lax in our civic duty. I’m not saying that’s what ushered in the orange monstrosity, but it certainly contributed. I won’t let that happen again.

So anyway, I spent time this morning drafting letters to my three federal level representatives which affected the overall word count, but I don’t regret it one bit. And I’ll do the same next week, and the next, and the next. I’m hoping I’ll keep it up for the rest of my life, because governing this country isn’t going to just go away. And we can’t assume that our electeds always have our best interests at heart. As they’ve proven. So we must hold them accountable.

All this to say that there are going to be things that are really important to you, and you have to make time for them. Because writing can’t be the only thing you do in the world.

Status Sheet 10182017

Letters to My Representatives 10-18-2017

Here are today’s letter. Please take a moment to call or write your electeds on these issues today or tomorrow.  Especially the Murray-Alexander deal! Visit It’s Time to Fight for more information and scripts. As always, many of my words come directly from that site.

Dear Senator Stabenow,

I would like for you to support the Murray-Alexander Deal to stabilize the ACA. This is a needed step in protecting healthcare for millions, particularly given that the agreement adds two years of much-needed subsidy funding, along with potential further steps to help 2018 enrollees. Please support this agreement and do everything in your power to encourage your colleagues to put their support behind the agreement as well. We need to act quickly, particularly with open enrollment coming up and the newly allocated $106 million.

I demand that you publicly condemn Trump’s reported statements to the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson in that “he knew what he was getting into”. Please demand an apology from Trump. He claims that is not what he said and he has proof. Please demand that he produce proof or apologize to the widow as well as to the military and the American public.

I would like for you to publicly denounce the Trump administration’s decision to end cost-sharing reductions for the Affordable Care Act. The CBO and independent studies all show this will increase health premiums by 20 percent or more, and the deficit will be up by $194 billion. (Per the CBO). I am also demanding you work with your colleagues to appropriate funding for CSR payments. You have to focus on the goal of market stability and reducing premiums, for the good of the constituents you represent. I will be monitoring how you choose to respond, and whether you chooses to respond in a way that shows a commitment toward improving healthcare for all.

I would like to voice my support for Senator Wyden and Hatch’s bipartisan bill extending the funding of the CHIP program, and am urging you to call for it to be brought to the floor for a vote. Approximately 9 million children rely on the CHIP program for health insurance, and a number of states will lose funding by the end of the year, if the extension is not passed. Please do not gamble with the health and well-being of our youth.

I am calling to demand you vote NO on the Hearing Protection Act and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, if/when it comes to a vote on the floor. Both bills would potentially put law enforcement and the general public at risk, and make it easier to commit violence. We just experienced the largest mass shooting in US history in Las Vegas; any support of either bill would strongly indicate that you do not support public safety. Additionally, I demand you commit to legislation that will result in sensible gun control, including universal background checks. I also ask that you filibuster these bills if they come to the floor.

I ask that you support S.1916, Senator Feinstein’s bump stock bill. Bump stocks were a key addition for several of the weapons found in the Las Vegas shooting. There appears to be no conclusive reason why bump stocks are needed, and/or should be legal. They simply cause more damage. Senator Feinstein’s bill to ban them has tentative bipartisan support, and I would like you to commit to signing on.

I am calling to protest the Trump Administration’s narrowing of the contraception coverage mandate. Many women use contraception for health, and not just to prevent pregnancy. I ask that you denounce this denial of access to contraception for women who need it for health reasons, simply based on the religious objections of certain groups. Women should have the option to decide their own reproductive rights. I demand you speak out for women’s health and protest this narrowing, but also support women’s health through legislation.

I ask that you push for a full disaster declaration for Puerto Rico – there is only a partial disaster declaration at the moment. Additionally, I would also like you to request a waiver regarding matching funds requirements for relief. Puerto Rico’s economy is currently unable to handle said requirements. I would also like you to request expanded military personnel, to help with infrastructure and recovery efforts. You should also add additional supplemental relief funds to the FAA authorization bill. We cannot wait until October for another round of funding. Finally, I am asking that you push for additional military personnel to be brought onto the island, beyond current numbers cited by the Pentagon. The island is in need of support to rebuild their infrastructure.

I ask that you support the Office of the Inspector General (OIG)’s investigation of Secretary Tom Price’s use of chartered planes when conducting official government business. Not only do Secretary Price’s actions violate federal law when it comes to travel by executive branch officials, it is also a questionable use of tax dollars particularly due to the cuts he wants to implement. Please publicly state that you support the investigation.

I want to express my objections to the latest incarnation of Trump’s travel ban. Even with the addition of North Korea and Venezuela, this ban is clearly targeted at Muslim nations, and should be construed as a Muslim ban. There is no documentation or justification for this ban. There is no research to prove that our country is safer. Keep speak out against this absurd ban.

I would like to voice my support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and opposition to the Senate Republicans’ attempts to overturn the CFPB’s arbitration rule. I believe that consumers deserve the right to their day in court, particularly in light of the unfolding situation with Equifax. Please protect the individual, and not the corporation.

I ask that you issue a public statement opposing the Trump administration’s efforts to end DACA, and to support Senator Graham and Durbin’s DREAM act.

I demand that you publicly condemn Richard Spencer’s return to Charlottesville last Saturday. Even just a few people demonstrating hate like Spencer cannot be tolerated and should be rejected in the strongest possible terms.

I ask that you publicly condemn Pence’s stunt at the Colt’s game. At a minimum, Pence’s trip to the game to make a point – as trump tweeted – cost the taxpayers a minimum of $520,000. This is not a responsible way for the federal government to spend money. I ask that you issue a statement and make it clear that you do not support this type of showboating tactic.

I am ask that you continue to pressure the Trump administration to seek diplomatic solutions with North Korea. What we need right now are strategic talks to help influence what steps North Korea might choose to take next; inflamed rhetoric will only escalate the situation. I am also asking you to push the Trump Administration to not undertake moves that will upset key allies in the region. The Trump administration has indicated they will withdraw from the South Korea trade deal; to do so is shortsighted, and will cause tensions with a key ally needed to address Kim Jong Un’s regime. Please consider long-term strategy, verses short-term moves.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Austin

 

Dear Representative Moolenaar,

I would like for you to support the Murray-Alexander Deal to stabilize the ACA. This is a needed step in protecting healthcare for millions, particularly given that the agreement adds two years of much-needed subsidy funding, along with potential further steps to help 2018 enrollees. Please support this agreement and do everything in your power to encourage your colleagues to put their support behind the agreement as well. We need to act quickly, particularly with open enrollment coming up and the newly allocated $106 million.

I demand that you publicly condemn Trump’s reported statements to the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson in that “he knew what he was getting into”. Please demand an apology from Trump. He claims that is not what he said and he has proof. Please demand that he produce proof or apologize to the widow as well as to the military and the American public.

I would like for you to publicly denounce the Trump administration’s decision to end cost-sharing reductions for the Affordable Care Act. The CBO and independent studies all show this will increase health premiums by 20 percent or more, and the deficit will be up by $194 billion. (Per the CBO). I am also demanding you work with your colleagues to appropriate funding for CSR payments. You have to focus on the goal of market stability and reducing premiums, for the good of the constituents you represent. I will be monitoring how you choose to respond, and whether you chooses to respond in a way that shows a commitment toward improving healthcare for all.

I demand you commit to legislation that will result in sensible gun control, including universal background checks.

I am calling to protest the Trump Administration’s narrowing of the contraception coverage mandate. Many women use contraception for health, and not just to prevent pregnancy. I ask that you denounce this denial of access to contraception for women who need it for health reasons, simply based on the religious objections of certain groups. Women should have the option to decide their own reproductive rights. I demand you speak out for women’s health and protest this narrowing, but also support women’s health through legislation.

I ask that you push for a full disaster declaration for Puerto Rico – there is only a partial disaster declaration at the moment. Additionally, I would also like you to request a waiver regarding matching funds requirements for relief. Puerto Rico’s economy is currently unable to handle said requirements. I would also like you to request expanded military personnel, to help with infrastructure and recovery efforts. You should also add additional supplemental relief funds to the FAA authorization bill. We cannot wait until October for another round of funding. Finally, I am asking that you push for additional military personnel to be brought onto the island, beyond current numbers cited by the Pentagon. The island is in need of support to rebuild their infrastructure.

I want to express my objections to the latest incarnation of Trump’s travel ban. Even with the addition of North Korea and Venezuela, this ban is clearly targeted at Muslim nations, and should be construed as a Muslim ban. There is no documentation or justification for this ban. There is no research to prove that our country is safer. Keep speaking out against this absurd ban.

I ask that you issue a public statement opposing the Trump administration’s efforts to end DACA, and to support the Bridge Act.

I demand that you publicly condemn Richard Spencer’s return to Charlottesville last Saturday. Even just a few people demonstrating hate like Spencer cannot be tolerated and should be rejected in the strongest possible terms.

I ask that you publicly condemn Pence’s stunt last weekend at the Colt’s game. At a minimum, Pence’s trip to the game to make a point – as trump tweeted – cost the taxpayers a minimum of $520,000. This is not a responsible way for the federal government to spend money. I ask that you issue a statement and make it clear that you do not support this type of showboating tactic.

I am ask that you continue to pressure the Trump administration to seek diplomatic solutions with North Korea. What we need right now are strategic talks to help influence what steps North Korea might choose to take next; inflamed rhetoric will only escalate the situation. I am also asking you to push the Trump Administration to not undertake moves that will upset key allies in the region. The Trump administration has indicated they will withdraw from the South Korea trade deal; to do so is shortsighted, and will cause tensions with a key ally needed to address Kim Jong Un’s regime. Please consider long-term strategy, verses short-term moves.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Austin

Writing Challenge: Day 17

I wrote 3618 words today, putting my running total at 47,567 and I am 953 words ahead of schedule. Considering I’m helping with Pumpkin Day with 23 kindergarteners, it’s probably a good thing I have a few words to pad tomorrow with!

Today I found the words were flowing pretty well. I’m still not satisfied with the quality of the words, but they were flying out of my fingers and onto the page, so I can’t complain. And though I could have stopped earlier because I’d achieved my goal for the day, it seemed like a great idea to keep going when I had momentum. If the words aren’t coming, it’s okay to walk away and give yourself a break. But if they are, sometimes it’s a good idea to keep it going.

Status Sheet 10172017

Writing Challenge: Day 16

I wrote 2817 words today, meeting my daily goal and more than maintaining my total goal. I’m at 43,949 words, which is 77 words over. I could have written for another half and hour today, or I could be writing right now after the kids go to bed, but two things stopped me:

  1. I wasn’t mentally prepared to write the next chapter. I could do it, but it will be a better written chapter after I have tonight to think about it first.
  2. I was at a good stopping point and I need to think about dinner plans, packing for swim practice, making sure we could get homework done. In short, I will be a better writer if I also take care of my life. It’s called self-care. If day-to-day is in order, I can concentrate more effectively on my imaginary worlds.

But I did want to talk about something else tonight: time. Not in the context of how we have to manage our time in order to be a writer, and often be other things like parent, spouse, co-worker, friend, child, etc. We have jobs, relationships, volunteer activities, and hobbies that take our time too. But more in the context of how much time it takes to write a novel.

I’ve heard the iceberg analogy used to describe novels referring to the fact that if you’re a good writer the reader will only see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plot, world building, character development, etc. of your novel. But I think that translates to time as well.

The amount of time it takes to write a novel, including 1st draft, editing, critiques, and polished MS is merely a fraction of the time an author spends on that book. There’s day dreaming, fantasizing, plotting, writing down every snippet of thought you have on the novel. There’s research and Pinterest for inspiration. There’s character questionnaires and more day dreaming, and more plotting. There’s more research and thinking of names for every person, place, and thing you come across. I think about my novels while I’m driving, jogging, doing the dishes, folding laundry, trying to go to sleep, failing to go to sleep. In essence, I always have one portion of my brain in that novel. It never turns off.

So I guess my point it is, it is immensely satisfying to see THE END on a finished MS, and I hope to find out how it feels to hold a published book in my hand as well, but that electronic file or hardcover book is a misleading quantifier to anyone who doesn’t write. Because we’d need an ocean of pages in comparison to really demonstrate the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve given to our books.

Status Sheet 10162017

Writing Challenge: Day 15

This post is coming a little late because I was up until 11pm finishing my words. Weekends are a terrible time to get writing done and I might make an adjustment to a writing challenge in the future to write more words on weekdays, and not expect anything or very little of myself on the weekends. Of course, I’m struggling to make word counts on weekdays too, but I’m trying to remind myself that I set myself a huge task to finish 85k words in 31 days, so I shouldn’t be too down if I’m having trouble achieving that.

But I did hit my goal yesterday, despite spending almost the whole day driving to IKEA and shopping for cabinets for the kitchen.  I wrote 3000 words, making up for the deficit the day before. I’m 2 words in the black again! 2 words isn’t a lot, but hey, I’ll take it.

I’m looking at my outline and I’m about 3/8 through the list. Yes, I actually figured it out in 1/8 freactions. I’m like that.  But I’m at 41k words. Quick math says I might expect this novel to be 109k words. Um, that’s a bit long for YA, especially when I already feel like I’ll have to go back and add descriptions and emotion. So I’m a little nervous about how this is going to turn out. (Also, I won’t be finishing 109k in 31 days. Just not going to happen.)

It’s an arbitrary number of course. There’s no telling how many words each plot point needs to tell it, so I could start flying through the outline as I get closer to the end. Or it could be twice the expected word count. I just don’t know. Either way, this whole concept is going to need some work. I’m writing every scene, every subplot I came up with along the way. And of course more are popping up all the time. But I just want to get the story on paper and see what needs to be cut later.

Status Sheet 10152017

Writing Challenge: Day 14

I wrote 2453 words today, but I’m back in the red by 256 words. It’s okay though. I stopped writing at 10pm at night at the end of a chapter and I just knew I wasn’t going to put anything worth keeping on the page. It was the end of what I could produce for the night and there was no point in putting crap on the page.

To be honest, a lot of what I wrote today felt like crap. But days like that are something you have to push through when you’re attempting a writing challenge like this. Just get it out and accept that you are going to have to fix a lot of stuff later.

But it’s also making me look forward to trying a different writing style after this WIP. I’m going to give it a break before I do the major editing. I’m going to let it breathe. And let myself breathe. And the next book I plan on taking a different approach. I’m going to take my time, enjoy the experience and try for higher quality per day as compared to quantity each day.

There’s nothing about either method that makes one more valuable than the other. Sometimes it’s the individual writer that determines the value in the method that’s best for them. For me, I can work both ways, but I want to continue to try both versions (and a mix of those methods) as I continue to grow as a writer.

Status Sheet 10142017