Nancy: The Month of the Phoenix

The Phoenix: Mythical Beast That Rises From the Ashes

As this is the first Monday of a new month, it’s time for me to recap my writing progress (or lack thereof) for the past month, as I promised to do way back in January. (Remember January? We were so young, so naive!) This time, however, I want to spend less time looking back and more time looking forward. This might lead you to think my progress in March was less than stellar. You would be correct. But that’s not the main reason I’m going to focus on April

This shift in perspective came from reading Michaeline’s and Jilly’s posts Saturday and Sunday, respectively, here on 8LW. Micki pointed out the first quarter of the year is over, and she was wondering what she’d gotten done (I’m right there with you, Micki), while looking forward to the next quarter of the year and what she hopes to accomplish. Jilly wrote a poignant post about the very personal and happily triumphant wake-up call she and her husband had two years ago. After a weekend of thinking about the upcoming quarter, bucket lists, and not letting one more day go by without pursuing dreams, I’m much more excited to think about April and the future than March and the past.

I’m not dismissing or ignoring March. We do have to spend some time looking back, assessing successes and failures, and using our experiences to do better. So, to recap March, I stayed in touch with my WIP stories – the one I recently finished and the one I’ve just begun  (these are the first two books of an historical romance series I’m planning). I’ve also done some really good brain work about the overarching series and its through-lines. I didn’t get many words on the page, but I excised thousands upon thousands and dumped them into the virtual recycling bin, as I’ve begun serious revision on the series book 1.

Put that way, it sounds like March was a productive writing month. It wasn’t. I moved at a much slower pace than is normal for me. The revisions of book 1, in particular, are thoroughly kicking my ass. I’ve walked away from it for a while, have come back to it and cut major chunks, have brainstormed and outlined replacement sections, and still I hate it. Right now, fixing it is like trying to swim upstream through molasses.

But enough about March. I’m burning it and its writing problems to the ground so April can rise from its ashes. A new quarter, a new month, a new day, and hopefully all without snow and cold and winter misery. I’m cutting myself some slack and giving myself the month of April just to feel the love for writing. I’ve joined Camp NaNoWriMo, which sounds like a high-pressure situation, but I’m actually going to use it the way NaNoWriMo was intended to work – to encourage myself to get my butt in the chair and just write, to release the inner writer without concern for the inner editor.

Revisions are May’s, or more likely, June’s problem. April is for writing what I want, when I want. Each day (and I will sit down to write each day, even if I have less than an hour at a time to do it), I will find a character/scene/conflict that I’m excited to write and explore. If it’s not in sequence, so what. Not fitting the outline? Who cares. Not moving the story forward in any way I can see right now? Not going to give a flying fig. I’m just going to trust that the Girls in the Basement are sending up the scenes the story will need someday, or that I need to write (even if I eventually cut them) to wrap my head around the story. I’m going to seize each day and take Jilly’s advice to not wait.

In the comments to Jilly’s post, Micki mentioned having “sobering brushes with other people’s mortality”. I had similar experiences in a very short time period a long time ago, during the year I was going to turn 30. I decided I could take all those weird events as signs from the universe that something awful was going to happen to me, or I could translate signs of death into signs of rebirth instead. I decided to become a Phoenix rising from the ashes of the previous three decades, ready to embrace the next two-thirds of my life (yes, I plan to live to be a tough old bird). That’s the year I took up running so I could enjoy a sport with my husband, expanded my writing business to include freelance journalism so I could see my name in a byline, and found a writing critique group so I could do something I’d wanted to do since childhood – write fiction.

Every day I write is a day I do something that’s been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. That’s what I’m focusing on today, this week, and this month. How about you? What are you doing with this gift that is April?

9 thoughts on “Nancy: The Month of the Phoenix

  1. I’m a firm believer that omens are what you make out of them! You go in April!

    I’m tempted to join Camp NaNoWriMo, but . . . it’s a little late, and I want more control over my pace. I’m writing again! But I’m not counting how many words I’ve got done. It’s scenes I’ve got to worry about.

    For sure, I want to finish the big ballroom masquerade scene in the first draft; I’d like to get to the seance scene which I think will be the turning point to the second act. Like you, I want April to be all about listening to the Girls, and taking dictation. They’ve been very good to me so far this month!

    • I’m glad the Girls are talking to you!

      I wasn’t going to join Camp NaNoWriMo, but I needed to do something to shake things up and get my writing brain to re-engage in a different way, so I thought this might be the thing to do it. But I’m not going to get stressed and angsty about the word count. I know I can get high-quantity word counts, but at this point in my writing, I’d like to hit a balance between writing regularly/at a good pace and having better quality/less to rewrite.

  2. Good luck with your April goals. My inner editor is never on for the first draft (as you saw recently in my draft). If it was on, I’d never get anything done. After we finished the McD program, I couldn’t write for a long time because I felt that if I didn’t have the conflict lock before I started writing the scene, it wasn’t worth writing. I’m over that. I’m still working on the conflict for most of the scenes in my WIP, but at least I have words on the page.

    • The quality of your writing and story was great! It read as much more polished than a first draft (or at least, my first drafts). I’d be happy to achieve that level of quality first time around, but my process doesn’t seem to work that way. Then again, we can always improve our skills, so maybe I need to figure out how to work on that.

  3. My good news for April is that I think I’m going to finish my WIP (poor Phoebe’s hair has gone gray while I try to wrap up her story), at long last. Trying to develop good habits! Stick to the essentials! Do the important stuff first! And—it’s a miracle—I’m making good progress. Sounds like you are, too, Nancy!

    • Yay, that’s excellent news, Kay!

      I’m not doing anything as formal as Camp NaNoWriMo, but I am making a conscious attempt to turn off my inner editor, get the words down, and fix it later. I’ve been finding it difficult. I’ve spent so long in edit mode, I’ve forgotten what a discovery draft looks like.

      • I’m having the same issues with my inner editor, Jilly. After being engaged in revisions for so long, she refuses to give it a rest. Here’s hoping April sees us both making strides in getting our discovery drafts on the page!

  4. Pingback: Nancy: April Recap – All Is Not Lost | Eight Ladies Writing

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