Camp Nano, July 2017 /// YOU CAN DO IT

6:00 AM

So. You signed up for nano. You entered in your target word count. Then you smiled and settled back in your nice swivelly desk chair and, if you're like me, said, "Dude I got this."

Twenty-eight days later, you realize just how wrong you were.

I'm sure most of you are rocking it. And I'm also sure a good part of you are "not rocking it".

I'm in the later category. I'm "not rocking it".

But does that mean I'm failing nano? If you're in the "not rocking it" category like me, does that make us failures?

It's really easy to whine and say, "Ugh I'm so behind I'm such a failure. I'm failing this. Blah blah blah poor me ugh." But I challenge any of you who might be thinking this way to stop and ponder those words for a moment.

Are you really a failure? Are you really failing Nano?

In order to answer these questions, we need to go back to the beginning.

Why did you sign up for nano? 

Think about that question really hard. It might be as simple as, "Well, I always do." Or, "One of my friends wanted me to." Simple or complex, like, "I want to reach the part where so-and-so faces off with my antagonist."

My reason for signing up for this July's nano was fairly straightforward. "I want to write a short novel."

I tend to write really long, so writing short has been a challenge. But I have three days (two by the time you'll be reading this) to finish, and 15k left of my nano goal. I'm approaching the end, yes. But I'm not there, and I don't have long to catch up.

But at the same time, I don't feel like I'm failing. I feel like I'm going about slowly, because I am, but if I don't reach my nano goal, I'm actually going to be okay with that.

Why? Why am I okay with that? My stated goal above is "I want to write a short novel." That goal involves finishing it. But if I don't finish it, I'll still be okay?

There must be more to this.

I did nano because I wanted to write. I knew I'd be busy. I knew it would be really hard to make time for writing. I knew it was unlikely I'd be able to finish a novel anyway. But I still signed up because I knew that if I did, it would make me write. I would find times where otherwise I might not have.

I would make the time to do what I was capable of.

That's how you win nano. You do what you can, and you do it your best. 

I could have written 100k or three full novels, and I'd still feel satisfied like I do with an itty bitty 25k. Because no matter the word count, the heart of the goal is still the same.

Write what you can.

So if you're behind on your goal, relax. You're doing what you can. You've made the time you could, and you're writing. Do you realize how amazing that is? How amazing YOU are?

Well, you are amazing. You're writing this month, and that is fantastic. You're spending one month of your precious summer working towards something you love.

And that makes you a winner.

How is nano going for you? Have you "won" yet? Do you think you will? Why did you sign up for nano? If you're not doing nano, what are some goals you made this month, and have you met them?



Fight the Filler!

6:00 AM

I've been doing a lot of critiquing lately, and there's something I've noticed.

You can't comment on everything. So when I comment, I comment on what sticks out to me. There's a lot of good in a book, but I can only highlight so much of it. So when I'm highlighting the good stuff, I pick what really sticks out. What makes me squeal. 

Not every book is going to be all good. We all know this. And not every book is going to be all bad. We know this, too.

Some books will be half and half. There's a bunch of good stuff, and there's also a bunch of bad stuff.

And then some books, the majority of books I've found, tend to be about 20% ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, 40% this needs to be fixed, and 40% eh.

What's the "eh"? What's the stuff that doesn't stick out. The stuff we kind of gloss over.

Let's explore, shall we?

I like car rides.

(Stay with me. I promise this relates.)

I've always liked car rides. But in my experience, there are a lot of people who don't. I've been tailgated so many times that it's not even funny. I've been passed on the road, and I've seen cars zoom off well above the posted speed limit.

Why is that? Why do people rush about everywhere? Why don't they sit down and just ... enjoy the car ride?

I use car rides to pray. I use car rides to listen to music and really think about the words and what the song is saying. I use car rides to brainstorm ideas (since it's finally quiet). I use it to sing at the top of my lungs along to my favorite songs.

Why doesn't everyone appreciate car rides?

Because it's just a "step". It's transportation. The car ride itself is not what you're aiming for. What you're aiming for is the destination. A lot of people have only that in mind: I want to get home. When I get home I'll do this this and this. Or, I want to get to the store. When I do, I'll get this, this, and this.

The car ride itself is almost a nuisance. Because, for a lot of people, a car ride is just a car ride. Let's call it "filler".

Now you see where I'm going, yes? MWAHAHA.

There are things your character has to do. There are places your character has to go, things they have to see, in order for the story to flow right. But often times, the only reason a given scene might be in a book is because it needs to be there for the sake of flow. It has the sole purpose of getting your character from step 1 to step 2. That's it. That's its purpose.

And as a result, it's boring and flat. It doesn't stick out. It's easy to skim past.

How do we avoid that? How do we make every scene in our stories really matter? Not just there to fulfill the purpose of transitioning.

Can we even make every scene matter?

I am a firm believer that yes, you can. Every scene has the potential to matter. Every word in your story is precious.

Last year at the MYWW, I sat in a workshop class taught by Jonathan Friesen. He talked about how a story is made of moments. He defined a moment as a instant in time where something changes. A belief, a desire, a plan. Something in the character's world (and it doesn't have to be the MC) changes, for better or for worse.

That concept has stuck with me ever since. It has made me view my story differently, and brought emotional depth to my writing and my reading. I notice things in books now that I didn't before.

Emotional depth is not easy. Every now and then, I'll be writing along and realize I'm writing somethign really important. I had one of those (my own little moment, if you will) yesterday, when my characters were arguing. Leni, my MC, wants to steal something from the person she thinks cast the curse on their neighborhood. But Gunther, her friend and companion in breaking the curse, doesn't think Leni's suspect did it. At least, that's what he said.

I'm not claiming to have crafted an expert work here (#firstdrafting) but I was aware of something important happening while typing this. I stopped and took a screenshot, but I've been thinking about it ever since.

Why did this scene stick out? Why is this so important?

It's important because something changes. (In my book, this statement is even a bigger deal hehe but we'll stick with generalities.)

What changes?

Gunther changes. He acknowledges that no one is going to swoop in and save the day. The work isn't magically going to get done while he sits back in safety and watches. Gunther does want the curse to end, and he knows he can make a difference ... but he doesn't want to change it.

Now, he can't play pretend anymore. He can't lie to himself or Leni any longer. He's admitted it to the both of them.

Now, Gunther has to make a choice. To be the one to stand up and make a change, or to run to safety and let the curse rage on.

Not every moment in your story is going to be huge and meaningful. Your story is full of big moments, but it's also full of little moments.

The important thing is that your story is full of change. Big changes, little changes. Think about your life. How many changes, big and small, do you experience every day?

If you have a dull scene, or something that just feels flat to you, take advantage of it. Make it into a moment. Have that character reflect on what's been happening in the story. Sometimes the moments when not much is happening are the most meaningful to your story. There where your character has time to reflect, and make more choices about future actions they take.

Make your scenes matter.

I was feeling this topic, so I posted it. XP Next week I'll try to give a nice Nano Pep talk, and then hopefully eventually sometime in the next blue moon I'll get to that Workshop post ;P

What about you? Do you struggle with story filler? Do you see how you could add some meaning to it to make it a moment?



Second Quarter of 2017 /// Wrap-Up

6:00 AM


I HAVE RETURNED! *hurls coffee beans and confetti and hops around happily* It's been ages. I've really missed spewing my brain thoughts into the void and chatting with the lovely writer peeps that hang out here. I appreciate all of you very much! 

And now I must ask -- how do you like Stan? He's gotten quite the makeover, eh? :P I'm very excited. 

Don't get me wrong! I loved the old design. Really, really loved it. But it wasn't really me anymore. It was, but it was the old me. I've changed a LOT in the past year. I needed something more crisp and snappy. And, after agonizing over dozens of templates for a ridiculous amount of time, I settled with this. Things are still being updated and changed, so bear with me if things are iffy for a bit. 

Now, for that wrap-up I've been promising ...

L I F E 

Oh goodness. Where to even begin?

I know I promised poems but guys it's 1:45 a. m. and I PROBABLY NEED SLEEP but that's okay hahahaha who needs sleep anyway and WOW THIS IS ACUTALLY THE STORY OF MY LIFE?

Motto for this quarter: SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK.


I am also being hit with the realization that there's a reason most people don't blog at 1:45 in the morning.

Anyway. In all seriousness, the past three months have been C R A Z Y busy. So much has happened, I don't even know how to condense it! But I shall try, with the big highlights.

* I volunteered at my local library (which I've wanted to do for ages)

* I went to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a 3-day writing workshop and I got to be with ALL THE FRENS and it was wonderful. (A full-out blog post will be coming soon for that)

* I spent a week at my childhood bible camp as staff-in-training and was the official camp photographer, which was a fun experience.

* I am on the swim team for my fourth (or fifth?) year in a row (which might sound nice but it actually means getting up stupid early and going to the pool and trying not to drown for an hour and thirty minutes for four days out of the week. SO FUN.)

* I went on a mini mission trip to Kentucky (mentioned in previous post)

My summer still holds two more big trips for me, which I am excited to take. I'm also having to do collegey stuff, which is exciting and scary and nerve wracking.


MOTTO: Everything has their ups and downs.

Writing this past quarter was tricky. I felt like I was trying to pry the tusks off a walrus for half the time, and then the other half was a pleasant stroll through the meadow picking daisies. There was no in-between.

And yes, The Dream Walkers is my angel child. But, as my motto that I totally just made up on the spot at 1:56 in the morning which means it is abosulte gold and you should live by it for the rest of your life says, everything in life has its ups and its downs.

I've had some great moments with DW. I have an awesome new critique partner (*waves*) that has been super encouraging and helped me look at new angles. My lovely cousin read almost half the first draft and swarmed me with encouraging notes which were mostly just rabid fangirling. What more can a writer ask for?

And for the past 15 days, I've been writing on my nano project. You'll have to wait till next week to hear more about that though. Stay tuned!

R E A D I N G 

MOTTO: Sometimes, the brain doesn't go.

I thought about ignoring this section, but I opted against it.

To explain: I haven't been reading much at all. I really want a super good book that will sweep me off my feet, but either I just haven't found one yet (that I haven't read) or something's wrong with me. I am determined to get more reading done though. I WILL READ THE WORDS. I must. My heart longs for them.

I did get a bunch of books at the MYWW though, including a lovely book of poetry by the amazing Caroline Meek and her friend, Skylar Barnes. You should definitely check it out. It's so heart warming and touching.

I also read Book of a Thousand Days (*screams*) and Real Friends, both written (and signed!!!) by Shannon Hale. (I am totally abusing the liberty of parenthetical usage in this post and i am not even  really sorry) Both were absolutely stunning, and you can read my reviews for them on Goodreads and Instagram!

Speaking of which: I got a bookstagram! I am really enjoying it. It does take a good deal of time to snap artsy photos of books, but it's a nice break for me during the day to go to my room and make visual art with books and symbolic items. I really enjoy it, and it's so worth the 20-25 minutes it usually takes. Come check it out and say hi! (the photo graphic for this post is my latest insta photo, if you're wondering what kind of pictures I'm taking)


MOTTO: Quality music can be found in the must unexpected places.

Okay so I have BODYGUARD to thank for this quarter's new music discovery.

...are you ready for it?


...*drum roll*...

Animal documentary soundtracks. 

THINK ABOUT IT. DOESN'T IT MAKE SENSE? I'm still reeling from this discovery. The Planet Earth soundtrack? GORGEOUS. Racer Snakes vs Iguanas sounds like it's from Lord of the Rings. It specifically reminded me of when Frodo almost gets eaten by the giant spider in the third movie. BEAUTIFUL MUSIC. Chinstrap penguins is a great one too.

THANK YOU, BODYGUARD! *high fives*

As for regular music, I am currently listening to True Colors from the Trolls movie on repeat. It's such a beautiful sonngggggg. *flops* and the movie is SO GOOD. YOU NEED TO GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW.

O N   S T A N 

MOTTO: Do not fear change.

Well, I mean ... I think this one's pretty obvious.

I learned several things about myself in updating Stan. One being that I stress way too much over small things, two being I am rarely pleased with anything, and three being when I am pleased with something, I get very giddy and hyper. Hence, the long rambly post because I AM ACTUALLY HAPPY WITH MY NEW UPDATE.

Also, I literally just realized that Stan reached 100 followers. *dances and hurls lots of coffee beans and M&M's* 70 google followers, and 36 email subscribers!

Thank you guys for making this happen! It's super cool and exciting and yeah I'm just a happy squid muffin right now *beams*

And now, for everyone's favorite ...

F U N   F A C T

MOTTO: Be on the lookout for what you wish to find.

I didn't learn as many fun facts as I'd like this quarter, BUT in an intense game of Skittles with my cousins, somehow the topic of Polish holidays came up. On further research, I learned that many Polish celebrate Epiphany, which takes place on January 6th. It's kind of like Christmas, in that they celebrate the three wise men that visited baby Jesus. So, reminiscent of Christmas, but ... not. (although Polish do celebrate Christmas.)

There are parades and lots of candy and small treats. Just another reason everyone should pack up right now and go to Poland. Actually you'd have to wait six months before the holiday wouldn't that be a shame to spend six months in Poland.

This has been quite lengthy, but I hope you enjoyed! I'll be back next week with a Nano-related post, and then I'll give you ALL THE STORIES from this years writing workshop.

Please, talk to me! Do you like Stan's new design? Has your summer been busy or relaxed? Have you gotten much writing done? Are you doing nano? If so, how are you doing so far? Do you have a fun fact to share? 


Just a Little Longer ...

6:00 AM

Hi guys! Whew. It's been ages. I've missed you all!

I regret to inform you that this is just a "Hello, I'm still alive" post. I'm alive and well and writing like crazy because #nano (which I haven't really talked on here about that? July Camp Nano, that is. I need to change that ...)

Believe it or not, I have not been completely blog sleeping the past month. On the chances I had (meaning, when I wasn't at camp or in Minneapolis writing with alllll the frens *cue the happy squealing*) I was actually slaving away with blogging stuff.

Stan is about to receive a huge makeover, and I'm pretty excited. But it's taking me a lot longer than I'd expected it to, and I am gone this weekend on a mini-mission trip with my church. Hence, the Hannah is super behind on just about everything.

SO. Long story short: you will have to wait just a little bit longer for that quarter wrap-up. (don't worry - it's going to be a special one, with wrap-up's and look-to's and probably some more improv poetry no don't run away) I'm going to try to have everything up and running by next week.

I hope all of you are still alive *pokes around* and doing well! Please, let me know how your summer is going! Have you done anything exciting? If you haven't, have your characters?

Talk to me, peeps! I miss you all! *throws coffee beans and chocolate*

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