Back Again

NaNoWriMo 2018, Day 5, Elayna’s Log

Current Word Count: 12,065 words

Current GIF Mood

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It’s that magical time of year again friends, and even though I’m terrified of the election tomorrow and it often feels like the world has gone beyond dumpster fire into full on eldritch dystopian hellscape, I’m trying to find a tiny piece of hope to hold onto, and right now, that hope is NaNoWriMo. That hope is, as it always seems to be for me, Alteria.

You may recall a few months back when I made the whacky decision to try and write a third draft of book one at the same time as a first draft of book three. In retrospect…

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Not the best idea.

It was a great idea in theory, but I burned out on that faster than a cheap t-light candle, and fell into a bit of a hole as I went through some stuff in my personal life. I wasn’t working on the story, book one OR three, and I was to be honest, feeling a bit trapped.

But then I applied for Pitch Wars 2018. I was more hopeful than I’ve been in a long, long time, thinking THIS IS IT. THE THING. IT IS HAPPENING. And then when I got a full manuscript request from one of the writers I was most stoked about pitching, I was bursting. Everything I’ve ever hoped and dreamed was so close I could taste it and friends it tasted like your favorite ice cream mixed with homemade cookies and goddamn rainbows.

When I got another email from that same writer, asking me specifics about the history of the manuscript and other questions of import, it felt like it was just a matter of time. I was drunk on hope, anxious with nerves, and really, really thought that my name was gonna be on that list on October 12th.

And then it wasn’t.

And then I broke a little.

Added to the six rejections I’ve gotten from agents in the last calendar year, that brings me to seven. When I got rejected from ANOTHER mentorship last week, that brought me to eight. I was feeling so kicked down, and scared that maybe I should quit. This manuscript will never be ready. The book will never be finished. I tried staying positive, but internally, the breakdown was more like an implosion.

Leave it to National Novel Writing Month to save the damn day and remind me to have hope in humans, existence, and my story.

The last five days working on this new draft (after an astronomical overhaul of the outline, plot, and even chopping some characters) I feel fan-bloody-tastic. Is this the honeymoon week of NaNo talking? Maybe. But who the hell cares if it means I feel rejuvenated in my writing?

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This draft, while in some ways very scary and new, is honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made creatively in a long time. Its outline came after talks with some closest friends about why I was getting stuck, and looking over rejection feedback, and a lot of it came down to this… there was something about my book that wasn’t personal enough.

If y’all have read my poetry, you know I go in. I lay myself out and say, this is what my soul looks like. But it turns out my fiction writing was full of just a little too much fiction, and not enough of my own voice. I was trying so hard to tell the plot of a sweeping epic trilogy, without telling the story of a girl who learns she’s got light inside of her. And so writing this so far has felt more authentic and honest than any drafts prior.

I’ve included places from my hometown. Woven in my own memories to Piper’s narrative. And if you can believe, I found a way to include poetry into my YA fantasy novel. I described the writing of this version as feeling like, “adding new plot elements, but talking to an old friend”, and so far, its been a magical decision.

I’ve got zero way of knowing right now if this is gonna be the one. I could still be in for a draft four, five, six, and twentyteen. Maybe this one will end up being too personal and I’ll have to go back and do this all over again. God only knows. But right now, I’m letting the delightful fire of a new draft fill me up and keep me warm. I’m enjoying the bejesus out of writing fiction, which I haven’t felt in some time. It’s a nice feeling. Just so nice.

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Though now it’s time to get back to it. I’d love to try and stay as ahead as I can on this word count, so I can make the most of the end of month when I have some vacation days tucked away just for writing.

If you’re participating in NaNo as well, sound off in the comments so we can encourage each other! And as ever, thanks for listening to my ramble about this thing I love doing so dang much.

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1.4 … First Kiss

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LOVE LESSONS

1.4 … First Kiss

It should have been bliss.
I remember afterwards thinking
Romeo & Juliet didn’t die for this.
It left me wishing I were the star
of Never Been Kissed.
Anything to keep from
remembering those lips.

⚬⧝⚬


For more from this collection, visit

elluminations, vol. 1
LOVE LESSONS

Click here to learn more about elluminations. This poem is also available on Medium.


Want to read more poetry?
Add Unraveling Light on…

Goodreads

Buy the book on…

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound


(Featured Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash)

(elluminations © 2018 Elayna Mae Darcy)

New Poems & News

Guess who’s dropping a new poetry collection this week? 👀

Yep, it me.

As some of you might recall a few months back, I decided to start a new series called elluminationswhich I originally planned to release quarterly through Patreon, while the first volume was made available for free.

Well friends, there’s been a change of plans, and this post is Part 1 of 2 explaining why. (Keep an eye out around mid October for the exciting surprise that is Part 2. 😉)

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Sooooon…

Part one of said change of plans is that I have decided to make elluminations vol. 1 available for free as well, and I will be releasing the whole collection over the next two weeks via this blog, Medium, and my Instagram page. This new collection is a bit shorter than vol. 0, and is called Love LessonsThe poems included in it are about personal experiences and struggles I’ve had in both finding love, and learning to love myself more. If you read the Love section in Unraveling Light, these poems serve as a nice companion to that.

The first poem in this collection, Seasons, will be released this evening here on Elayna Musings first, and then you can find it elsewhere on the internet tonight!

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Huzzah for poetry!

However! As excited as I am to announce this new set of poems, I do have one last part to this update, and that is that after a lot of deliberation over the summer, I’ve decided to phase out my Patreon page. Getting people to subscribe there has been a challenge, and while the people at Patreon are seriously creating something amazing for artists like myself, it just doesn’t seem to be the right fit for me. I’ll be posting an announcement over on there to let patrons know that as of October, that page will be inactive.

October is going to be a big month though, for while I am phasing out Patreon, I do have something new coming for y’all to take it’s place. Till then, I’ll be sharing the new elluminations poems, and finishing up the sending out of the Kickstarter perks for Unraveling Light. (Which if you haven’t ordered one yet, you get get your copy here, here, or here!) Thanks as always friends. Looking forward to sharing more stories with you soon! 😊


Like poetry?
Add Unraveling Light on…

Goodreads

Or buy the book on…

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound


(Featured Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash)

Return of Camp NaNo

Three summers ago I participated in my first ever July Camp NaNoWriMo, where I began writing what would go on to become my first fully completed draft of the first book in my Alteria Trilogy. This July, I come full circle.

This summer I am writing the first draft of the third book.

And the third draft of the first book.

Three summers later, and the Inception meme is still applicable.

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BWAM BWWAAAM BWWWWWAAAAAAAMMMMM

I realize that writing two books at once (while also wrapping up production on Unraveling Light, which will be dropping VERY SOON!) is madness, but I’ve always been one for crazy endeavors, so why stop now.

The decision to work on Book 3 though this summer wasn’t an easy one to come to. I found myself so torn about whether or not it was the right call. I always told myself that Book 3 was a far off thing that I’d do well after the first and second books were done and out there. But I realized that 1) I have nothing to lose by writing a first draft of it early and 2) In fact, it will make the revision process for Book 1 go much smoother, because as I am writing the newest draft of it, I’ll know where the story ends, and thus, will be able to breadcrumb all the right things in there for readers.

The idea of really fine tuning They Are the Last before I begin a second round of querying feels right, but so does wrapping up the series by getting the first draft of Book 3 to paper. It’s going to be a writing adventure unlike anything I’ve done before, which fills me all kinds of up with the excitement and dread and wonderment that makes me love writing so. damn. much.

I will do my best to blog along in the process as I go this month, but I make no promises of writing every day, since every time I say I’m gonna do that, the pressure makes me never actually do it. Hopefully this bizarro journey will teach me some new things, and if I find any of that worth sharing, I’ll be sure to put that together into something for y’all.

I’m already three chapters into the third book, and already there’s been some majorly gut wrenching to write scenes. This is where everything comes together, friends. I cannot believe I have come to it, and that I will at last be finding out how Piper’s story ends. Many more drafts will surely come over the years of all 3 books, but to know generally speaking where my babies end their journeys makes me feel nine kinds of everything all at once.

Hoping to cross the 5K mark on the third book tonight, so it’s about time I get back to it. But to those of you who’ve been around since the beginning, thanks for sticking with me through this. For those of you just joining the journey, I’m glad you’re here. Off to Alteria we go…

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(Photo I took of the bridge that plays a huge part in the story, and Alteria shining in the distance.) ((Ok its the moon but LET ME DREAM OK))

 

These Poems Three

Happy National Haiku Day, friends! Here are some new ones I recently shared to my new @elaynamusings Instagram account, in honor of this epic day honoring one of my favorite poetic forms.

 

deep down within you
is a brilliant, shining star
let its light guide you…

 

though your heart may bleed
still, it beats inside of you
remember your strength

 

kindness to yourself
is far greater than riches
self-love outweighs gold

For more of my poetry, check out Unraveling Light, now funding on Kickstarter!

My Turn

As a writer, I have always agreed with J.K. Rowling on her words…

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.

That statement has proven true in my life time and time again. For every word that has hurt me, there have been more that have healed. For all the words that cause me to doubt, there have been just as many to inspire, and it was three words my roommate said to me about two weeks back that ignited something inside me.

Our conversation wasn’t unlike many of the others we’ve had before. One of the biggest topics was my fear that I can’t do “this.” By “this”, I mean be a published author.

Waiting to hear back from agents is painstaking. Watching other debut authors bask in the glow of their first books is incredible. Feeling like I could never be among them even if I tried has been disheartening. But on this particular night, there was one thing my roommate said that must have been exactly what I needed to hear. With three simple words, he sparked a fire…

“It’s your turn…”

This struck me, and it is because of that conversation that a project that I’ve been working on for months is about to come alive in a way I had not originally planned, but which am now thrilled to pursue. It is because of those three words that I was able to find the courage at last, make this announcement, which I’m happy crying over as I type.

I’m publishing a book, y’all.

Allow me to (tearfully) present to you, Unraveling Light, my debut collection of poetry.

a collection of poetry

As of the time of this writing, you can click the above link and be whisked away through the interwebs to a Kickstarter campaign, where I am raising the set-up funds to self-publish the book this summer. My starting goal is only $900, which means if 36 people decide to pre-order a signed paperback right now (really, did I mention the link’s right here?) then that’s it. I’ll have the funds needed to publish, and the rest is just whipped cream and cherries.

As I’ve shared this news with friends and family in the past few weeks, some have expressed surprise that I write poetry. Trust me, no one is as surprised as I am that my first published work is going to be poems. For while I’ve been actively writing poetry for the past few years, I never would have dreamed when I started that it would ever be something I would want to share with others, because of how deeply personal much of it is. But as I’ve been chipping away at progress on my YA series, writing poetry has become a truly joyous outlet for me and has served as a magnificent means of self-expression. Putting together this collection, and subsequently finding a passion for doodling and word art that accompanies the poems, has been an unbelievable experience of growth, and so I couldn’t be happier to finally be ready enough to release it.

The campaign runs from today until April 25th, concluding on that date because that would have been my mother’s birthday, and she is the one to whom this book is dedicated. I tear up thinking about her, and wondering how she would feel to know that not only am I finally chasing my life’s greatest dream, but that I am doing it on my own terms. My mom always supported me, and I wouldn’t be the writer, dreamer, or person I am without her encouragement, even when the rest of the world didn’t believe in me.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some teasers of the book here on my blog, but you can get more frequent updates by donating to the Kickstarter today so that you get notified as soon as something new develops with the project! For donating, you can get all manner of fun things from handmade bookmarks, to audiobooks, to signed copies of the book, and even custom art prints. By donating, you’d be helping me to achieve something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. So basically a ton of great karma on top of all the swag. A pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

I know there’s not many people who read this blog. I know that as far as the publishing world is considered, I am still a nobody. Hell, even when this campaign succeeds and the book is out there, it still isn’t likely to be a bestseller or to change the world. But it is my heart put to paper. As my campaign page says…

The words in this volume serve as not just the written sum of one person’s experiences, but as a celebration of surviving them.

As I begin this journey, I find myself so happy to have survived. I am so happy to still be writing. I am so happy to be alive to share this with you. I hope that whoever you are, stranger or friend, you can find some shred of magic in my words, and that through that, you can feel the same hope I feel as I put Unraveling Light out into the world.

The Adventure Continues…

So the last two years in a row, I’ve written blog posts to commemorate the anniversary of when I started writing the first book in my Alteria trilogy, They Are the Last. Seems only fitting that I should continue the tradition, giving that this year, I’m working on book two’s first draft, and even better, I’m almost done.

What a journey this story and I have been on in the last twelve months.

In that time, I managed to AT LAST finish the second full draft of the first book, which I wrapped up with insane amounts of joy on the night of July 31st/the early AM hours of August 1st. The story became more concise, despite the addition of some new chapters and characters. I grew so much as a writer in that time period and felt so accomplished that this was the first time I’d ever completed a second draft of something. It was a draft nineteen months in the making, and while it still needs another round (or several) of revisions, it is in the best shape it has ever been.

It was the completion of that story that finally led me to begin to plan Book 2, which is currently titled You Are the Dawn. This book got considerably darker, and also split into a few different perspectives. (More so than the first book anyway.) This book includes a deepening of Alteria, with the introduction of new characters, new world elements, and even new dimensions. I planned the heck out of it from August to October, and then rolled ’round another season of NaNoWriMo, which I was happier than words can say to have finished in the final hour.

Since finishing that first 50,000 words of the books, I’ve been slow-walking the completion of the book, since there’s been a bunch of other creative endeavors, and also some intense personal life events, that kept me from finishing. But recently, I’ve felt incredibly inspired by a number of authors I’ve been following on twitter (looking mostly at you Tomi Adeyemi and Julie C. Dao) and it has me on a path to complete the draft. One step better, I will hopefully be finishing it this weekend.

As of this writing, I’ve got three and a half chapters to go, a whole battle sequence to write, and a cliffhanger ending to pen, which hopefully will leave any future readers both very excited and angry with me. *author side eye smirk*

Looking ahead to what comes next—as I try to grapple with the fact that this story’s now older than I was when I came up with it—once draft one of book two is finished, it’ll be back to working on the third round of edits for book one. Then comes the brave new world that is querying to get the book picked up by an agent. I am both horrified for days and excited to infinity for this process to begin.

I sent out a few queries in the fall, not long after I’d finished TAtL, but was met with my first three rejections. One of them was from one of my top dream agents, so that was a sad pill to swallow. But I’m glad for it, because it made me realize the draft still needs work, and that is not a bad thing. I want my book to be the very, very best it can be before an agent decides to take it on. And even though that means taking longer than I’d like, I’m willing to take that time and care if it means a better outcome awaits.

With the completion of They Are the Last draft three, and You Are the Dawn draft one, a completely new and uncharted part of this journey will begin. I’ve no idea if this will be the year I finally get an agent or not, but I’m praying hard that this is the one.

Till then, however, I am just so, so happy that after all these years, I’m still trying to tell this story. I feel so blessed to get to explore Alteria and its universe in my imagination, and every moment spent writing about Piper and her companions is something that fills my soul with hope. Even on the hard days, when the words don’t come easy, or when life comes at me hard, I’ve still got this story inside of me. And until the golden day when I get to share it with the world, having it in my heart is more than enough.

 

What I’m Going To Do

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count: 12,522 words

Current NaNoWriMo Mood (via a GIF):

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Kind of kicking myself for waiting till the 12th day of the month to update y’all on my NaNoWriMo progress, but the timing works I suppose since yesterday was the best writing day I’ve had in a long time, for a lot of different reasons.

For one, it was 11/11, which is my favorite day because my favorite number is 11. Good mojo from the jump on that front. Add that to the fact that we had an extended Write In with some of my friends from the PhillyWrimos group, and you have the recipie for a very good writing day.

And boy howdy was it.

Wrote just over 5,300 words yesterday, definitely my best writing day since the summer, and by a long shot my best one of the month so far. Not only was the quantity of words exciting to reach, but the content of those words was so wonderfully unexpected and important to the core of the story I’m trying to tell. Obviously the writing of it itself is probably swiftly written garbage that will need lots of revising, but the ideas are there. The framework has been laid down, and I feel as if yesterday’s writing is something truly thrilling that I will get to build upon later.

The month as a whole has gone pretty well, even though I did have a several day dry spell where I couldn’t get anything down. (Though to be fair, that was less about not being inspired to write and more about being too busy/tired to actually sit down and try any writing.) The month goes on though, and to be honest, it goes a little too quickly for my liking. I can’t believe we’re almost half way through it.

But even as time flies by, I have to say this experience so far this November has been like 90% blessed and 10% stressed, because there is a indescribable thrill that comes with first drafting for me. Its like the one Terry Pratchett quote, “The first draft is you telling yourself the story.” That has largely been how I’ve felt. Its like I’m an archaeologist of my own subconscious, digging around in there and uncovering characters and plot points and moments of meaning. My love for the exploratory nature of first drafts knows no bounds in this or any universe.

I know that the writing process is made of many hills and valleys, and so I don’t expect things with this draft to stay lovely forever. I know I’m going to go through times of writers block, plenty of low points, and if I haven’t tried to defenestrate the manuscript at least a half dozen times before its done, I’m doing something wrong. But every part of the process, both the good and the bad, is what makes me love it. For every murky moment of self doubt, there’s a time for clarity and confidence. When I one day hold the finished thing in my hands, it’ll be worth every second of it, because I didn’t give up on it, and I made a thing that didn’t exist in the universe before. Even in the darkest of times, the little spark of hope inside me holds onto that thought, and it is what keeps me writing. No matter how many times I think I’m going to quit, I just ask myself the one question that’s been my guiding light this year… WWWWD? (What Would Wonder Woman Do?)

Not give up, that’s for damn sure.

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Back to the words. I’ll check in again soon.

 

Moving On

In the course of a single week, I’ve finished the second draft of my novel, and moved into a new apartment.

To say its been a bit of a week would be an understatement.

First, the book.

Finishing this draft was a very different feeling than the first. When I finished the first on New Year’s Eve 2015, it was like ending with a bang. I’d written 11,900 words in a single day, and as I finished, I immediately left my house to go to a friends New Year’s party. I rang in 2016 standing on the corner of 11th and Chestnut, watching fireworks in the distance, the joy and adrenaline of finishing coursing through me as the song ‘My Shot’ from Hamilton played in my headphones. I was as high on life as is possible to be without any substances. I had done what I thought was impossible, and it the words of my buddy Mal Reynolds, I felt mighty.

mal reynolds mighty

But draft two? It was the lamb to draft one’s lion. I finished at just around 3:45am on August 1st, having written about almost 8,000 words in the course of a day. Because it was so very late at night (or early in the morning depending on how you spin it) there was no one to celebrate with, and so I found myself typing the last phrase, to be continued, and then sitting back in my chair with a heavy, happy sigh. I looked at my computer screen for a good couple minutes, just in disbelief that I’d done it. Start to finish, draft one took six months, but draft two? Start to finish took nineteen months. In that time, I started and failed a campaign to publish it. I moved apartments and changed jobs. I went through every phase of imposter’s syndrome, self-doubt, and disappointment, some days thinking the first draft had been it—I’d never be able to get it right and actually get this book done. But that moment alone in my apartment, starting at the finished count and the words to be continued, I felt something I hadn’t the first time—this time, the story was whole.

The first draft had been entirely without a second act, and was RIDDLED with some of the worst plot holes and gaps in character development, mostly because at the time, there was still so much I’d yet to learn about writing. And while I am by no means an expert at it now, I’m certainly better off than I was then. Finding the close knit group of writing friends I’ve always longed to was game changing. Spending months and months reworking things and scrapping drafts and making detailed outlines and developing richer backstories informed the work in immeasurable ways. Every minute I spent in that year and a half was necessary to get me to that moment in the early morning hours of August 1st. And somehow, sitting there with the draft finished, I managed to have all of this hit me at once, but in a way that felt like a calming wave of emotion.

Finishing this draft wasn’t fireworks, it was stargazing—still beautiful, powerful, and inspiring, but peaceful.

The months ahead will now be focused on edits. Some of the chapters towards the end may need a bit of rewriting, and other chapters towards the middle will certainly need some tweaks and touch ups, but I don’t know that I’ll need another rewrite like this one. As I said, the story felt more whole this time. I feel like I’ve largely got to paper the story I’m trying to tell, and now its a matter of fine tuning it so it comes across the way its meant to. I’m incredibly excited for this process, because once I’ve finished the polishing, I begin a whole new phase—finding an agent.

2016 was the year where I tried something different. I thought non-traditional publishing was an exciting and perfect way to go about getting my book out there. My experiences since then have showed me that may not be all it is cracked up to be, and while self-publishing is still always an option on the table, I think I owe it to myself and to my book to try the traditional way. Who knows if that will pan out? Maybe I’ll get dozens of rejections like my girl Madeline L’Engle and when I’m about to give up, find the right person. Or maybe rejection after rejection will lead me to putting the story out there on my own terms. I’m not sure what will happen, but after all I’ve been through on the journey to tell this story, I’m certain that things will pan out exactly as their meant to. My faith in that fact is stronger than ever.

And so to my move…

It is perfectly fitting that I should move apartments after finishing the second draft, because now in every possible way, I enter a brand new phase of my life and this book’s production. It was living at my old apartment building that I came to the conclusion to go back to working on Alteria, and so as I close that chapter and move on to somewhere new, so too does my story move on.

I can’t wait to see what comes next, but until then, there’s work to do.

Almost There

Late night blogging, whatup!? (Apparently me…)

Felt compelled to pop in with an update because I’m almost there. It’s almost done.

Only six chapters left on the rewrite of They Are the Last, and then at long last, the second full draft will be done.

It has been a long time coming to this moment, so I won’t waste too much time in this post talking about the journey or what it took to get here, but I will say this… I’m literally on fire with excitement right now.

There’s a creative flame that always seems to come for me towards the end of a project–when I know that the completed thing is near, lying just around a few corners ahead of me. I spent so much of the last year and a half wandering and feeling lost in this process, but to have gained my sense of direction, to know exactly where to go and what is left ahead, knowing it will only be a few more days before I cross this new finish line… its like there’s fireworks exploding in my chest, and not in that weird Katy Perry way.

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It me…sorta…

This magnificent burst of creative energy is a wave I look forward to riding out all the way to the end of the month, especially because of all that lies ahead for me in August. For not only will I be concluding the second draft of my book, but I’ll also be moving out from the building I’ve lived in for the past three and a half years, the place that in so many weird and unexpected ways, brought me back to this story.

I’m looking forward to going out with a bang, and can’t wait to share more about it here when its finished. If there’s one thing you can be sure of with me, it’s that there will be feels.

marshalnotready
#MyBodyIsntReady

But for tonight, it’s back to the write space and back to the words. Excited to see how far I can get into Chapter 17 before sleep decides to kidnap me. See y’all at the finish line…