Step Into the Realm

Have you ever longed for a dream project to become a reality all the while living in a state that hovers somewhere between excitement and fear? If so, then you’re probably an artist. And if you’re an artist, then you know that talking about what you’re going to do is where creativity goes to die and fear to thrive.

For writers, we often talk about all the great stories we’re going to write. Many of us even have a notebook devoted to story ideas where we jot them down so we can pretend to stay focused on our WIP. Then one day, when the guilt gets to be too much, we make the commitment to not just set aside time for writing but actually write.

We attend writers’ groups, join online writing communities, and scour the Internet for writing advice all in the hopes of producing a piece of writing worthy of publication. There are good days and bad days, and then one day, it all pays off.

Stepping out in faith has been a large part of my writing process, and I’d say finding an excellent beta reader was where it started. I have been blessed to have a beta reader who catches my mistakes, asks the right questions to keep my plot on course, and challenges me to see things from a different perspective. He also provides amazing feedback and encouragement.

Then there’s my editor, who is a Godsend. When I was feeling my most resistant to completing my own dream, she entered the picture as an answer to prayer. Her expertise and energy never cease to amaze me. Combined with my beta reader, I have two people in my corner who often believe in me more than I believe in myself.

My blessings don’t end there. My husband has been through every high and every low of the writing process with me. I know I sometimes take him for granted, but as soon as I remember, I express my gratitude. He’s so compassionate and forgiving that occasionally I agree with my mother: I don’t deserve him.

My son lies on the other end of the spectrum from my husband, but that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes, his tougher approach riled me up, but it made me strive to be a better writer and prove to the little upstart that I could finish. Besides, what kind of parental example would I be setting if I didn’t complete what I started, which is the whole point of this post.

It is my very great pleasure to announce that my novel, Realm, is officially in production.

Thank you, dear followers, for taking this journey with me. Stay tuned for all the exciting updates.

~HL Gibson

How I Cheated at NaNoWriMo and Won

how-i-cheated-at-nanowrimoA couple years ago, my friend and fellow writer, S of JSMawdsley, talked me into trying NaNoWriMo. She mentioned it at the writer’s group she facilitates at the library where we worked. At the time, I was mainly a short story writer and dabbled in the occasional picture book. As luck would have it, I had an idea for a novel in mind, and NaNoWriMo seemed like the perfect way to get it out of my head and on my laptop.

Being new to the world of NaNoWriMo, I didn’t prepare at all. I just started writing on November first and quit on November thirtieth. I had 50,000 words, which satisfied the requirements of NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t have a complete novel. What I did have was a lot of work ahead of me and the conviction that maybe I really hadn’t won.

At this point, S would probably have told me I needed to outline my novel, but the first thing I discovered from writing such a lengthy piece is that I’m a pantser. I plot a little when approaching my writing, but I love to explore the rabbit trails because that is where I discover my best writing. My opinion on pantsing can be read here: Are You A Pantser?

So, did I win NaNoWriMo or did I cheat? I started at about the last one-third of the novel because I had the most information for writing that portion. In short, I learned the valuable lesson of researching before you write especially if it’s for a contest such as NaNoWriMo. You don’t want the added stress of trying to conduct research while keeping up a word goal.

I pressed on throughout the year editing what I had written and creating the rest of the novel as I wanted it to be. I researched more thoroughly and ended up chucking quite a bit of what I wrote for NaNoWriMo. Again, part of that was my fault, but I also wondered if one 50,000-word novel every year is what I wanted. Is that what the creators of NaNoWriMo want?

I suspect and sincerely hope the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to keep people writing because that’s what I did. Before I knew it, November had rolled around again, and with it NaNoWriMo. I wasn’t finished with my first novel, so why on earth would I abandon it for the added pressure of creating a new novel. Admittedly, I had no new ideas at the time, and I didn’t want the burden of coming up with one. Also, there was no time to research even the slim ideas that passed through my head.

Instead, I cheated, and I cheated grandly! I signed up for NaNoWriMo, and without a single ounce of shame, I re-entered my novel, The Secrets of Dr. John Welles. Dr. Welles’s story was almost complete, but I needed a little motivation to finish the missing chapters and tie it all together. NaNoWriMo provided this inspiration by keeping me on track with a daily word goal, but it also became a beneficial editing tool. If I edited my daily word goal, I counted it along with any new writing.

What I achieved wasn’t another half-baked novel, but rather a well-written, well-edited novel with which I was extremely pleased. A titch more editing after the fact, and Dr. Welles was ready for the hands of beta readers.

I took a couple years off from NaNoWriMo, but the point of the contest was always close to my heart. I knew I couldn’t devote time to a new novel and make The Secrets of Dr. John Welles all I wanted it to be.   Then there is the fact that when story inspiration comes to me, I have to begin which sometimes means starting before NaNoWriMo starts. Yes, there is Camp NaNo, but my heart belongs to the original taking place in November.

When NaNoWriMo rolled around this year, I was already a little over halfway through my current novel. During the month of October, I had to set my writing aside to prepare for my son’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor. When I was ready to restart, good ole NaNoWriMo once again came to the rescue as a means up jumpstarting my writing. Although I didn’t sign up with the official website, I created a spreadsheet to track and tally my daily writing goal. I’m using it to finish the current novel, for which I am prepared research wise, as well as for any writing I do that can be published including my blog posts.

Yes, that’s cheating because it’s not a single new novel of at least 50,000 words. But again, I have to believe the heart and soul purpose of NaNoWriMo is to keep writers writing. That is what I am doing.

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