Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!
We are deep into NaNoWriMo by this point, and with that comes the second part of Christine Smith’s NaNo linkup!
I really don’t have much else to say that won’t spoil the answers to my questions, so I’m just going to hop right in. Let’s go!
1. how’s the writing going overall?
I’m pleased to announce that it’s going very well! I’m actually ahead of schedule due to my 10,000-word head start on the first day. I’ve been able to keep up my motivation thus far and I hope it continues. As of yesterday, I have 30,326 words on my draft!
2. what’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?
Chapter eleven. Not going to lie, I had more fun writing that chapter than I have basically the entire rest of the book. It’s just kind of a vibey chapter–the characters don’t really do much, per se, but it was so fun to write that I don’t really care.
3. what do you think of your characters at this point? who’s your favorite to write about?
Not gonna lie, they’re kind of bugging me. They are making some really poor choices in the way they treat themselves and others, and I wish I wasn’t in charge of them because it’s like herding cats. Gosh, is this what being a parent feels like?
My favorite to write about is Cady. She’s more innocent than Tessa, her best friend, and writing about her experiencing the real world for the first time is so fun. She’s a lot like me, too, so that makes it a little bit easier. Plus, I love her interactions with her siblings.
4. has your novel surprised you in any way?
Not too much. Since I did so much plotting–well, it wasn’t so much plotting, but it felt like it because up until now I’ve never plotted–nothing is really coming as a surprise to me. I’m right on schedule, my characters are doing everything I expected them to…all is well.
Now, of course, it’s all going to derail and I’m going to wish I had answered this question differently.
5. have you come across any problem areas?
I haven’t come across any in the actual story itself (haha…yet), but one of my biggest problem areas overall has been finding time to sit down and write. I ended up being way more busy on the weekends than I anticipated, so once it became clear that the schedule I had planned wasn’t going to work, I had to do some tweaking. Once I did that, though, everything’s been running rather smoothly.
That’s kind of concerning, actually. The novel is going…really well. Like, surprisingly well. I’m a little suspicious now. There’s gotta be something that jumps out at me and completely derails me.
6. what’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?
Genuinely just sitting down and hammering it out. I planned really well, and now the writing is going really well. I’ve been really good about writing every single day since November 1st, and I’m on track for finishing well before the 30th. I’ve never been this consistent with writing before, and I’ve definitely never written this much in this little time before. It really shows how much I’ve matured since I last attempted NaNo.
7. if you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? would you take any different actions than they have?
Like I said, Cady is a lot like me, so I’m pretty sure I would become her. She’s a worrier, she’s never really seen the world but wants to, she dreams big, and she is good at making plans. These are all things that I also embody, and I feel like we’d be good friends if she were real.
I would definitely take different actions than she has. There is no way I’d have the gall to book train tickets on a whim and run away to California with my best friend. The story wouldn’t even get past the inciting incident if I was Cady.
8. give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!
Please don’t laugh at my unedited snippets.
The story starts from Cady’s perspective.
Dear Ms. de Smet,
We are pleased to admit you to the University of California, Los Angeles, class of 2024…
Cadence’s heart stopped.
I got in.
The next one is from chapter five. It’s right before the first plot point.
“Let’s run away.”
It burst out of Cady’s mouth suddenly and spiraled through the air. She could almost see the moment it landed in Tessa’s mind, her eyes widening, mouth opening…. She didn’t know if she wanted to take it back or if it was the most brilliant idea she had ever had.
“That’s the most brilliant idea you’ve ever had,” Tessa breathed. “Let’s do it. What do we have to lose?”
And one last one, from chapter eight, where they take a detour in Chicago, Tessa’s old hometown:
Sometime in the afternoon, Tessa saw Cady pushing her phone deep into her pocket, looking annoyed. “What is it?” she asked.
“My parents keep calling me,” Cady explained. “Henry too. I feel kind of guilty for ignoring him.”
Tessa frowned as something struck her. “Can they track you?”
A sudden look of horror passed over Cady’s face. “Oh no. They can. They can see me on Find My. What do I do?” She began hyperventilating, panicking. “I’m going to compromise this whole thing. They’re going to find us.”
Tessa wanted to panic too, but one panicking party was bad enough, so she willed herself to calm down. “We have to get rid of your phone,” she said urgently. “How are we going to do that?”
“I don’t want to just leave it here,” Cady said. “But I don’t see what other option we have. I feel like we have to destroy it. Like…for good.”
“We could put it in the street and wait for someone to run over it,” Tessa suggested.
“Or…” A slow, almost sinister smile spread across Cady’s face. “We could throw it in the river.”
Tessa grinned wildly. “Let’s do it. Come on.”
They were nearest to the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Within minutes, they had raced there. What are we doing? a tiny part of Tessa was screaming at her. But she ignored it and looked over the rail of the bridge.
Cady held the phone in both hands, staring at it. She laughed suddenly. “I feel like we need to have a funeral.”
Tessa made the sign of the cross over Cady’s phone with two fingers. “You have served us well,” she said solemnly, “but it is now your time to be committed to the sea.”
Cady giggled. “You will be missed,” she said, pretending to wipe away a tear.
“Not by me,” Tessa said.
Cady tossed the phone over the rail into the rushing river below, and they both watched as it disappeared. Cady stared at where it had sunk below the waves.
“You good?” Tessa asked her, worried that she was about to start panicking again. Maybe she regretted her decision.
Cady shrugged. “I feel like we’re littering. But if a sea turtle starts posting from my Instagram account, I guess it’ll be worth it.”
That last one was kinda long, but it’s one of my favorite scenes overall, so I decided to share it.
9. share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far!
Well, I did change a character’s name entirely about two days before I started drafting. Meredith changed to Cadence, but I call her Cady most of the book. I felt like it fits her better. I’m still not entirely hooked on Tessa’s name, but until a better one comes to me, she’s staying Tessa.
I also finally caved and reactivated my Pinterest account so I could make a Pinterest board for my novel. (Here it is if you’re interested.) It’s been serving me well, because whenever I feel like I don’t want to continue writing, I just go in and add some new pins and it makes me feel productive and inspired.
Another thing I’ve been doing is filling in this little chart that I made whenever I write another thousand words. It has five rows of ten thousand words each, and whenever I hit another thousand-word milestone, I fill in another square. I keep it on my desk next to my computer. It’s a great motivator. I highly recommend having tangible progress in front of you if you need motivation to keep going.
10. take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like.
Well, there are no “normal” writing days, because my schedule is crazy, but here goes.
On weekends and Wednesdays, I’m usually busy, so I don’t get a ton of writing done, usually only about 500-700 words. It’s all I have the mental energy for on busy days, but at least I’m churning out something.
On Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I have schoolwork, so I get it done and then sit down in the afternoon to write. I usually start around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and finish around 4 or 5. How much I write on those days really depends on my mental energy, how much schoolwork I have, and how motivated I feel. I try to churn out at least 1.5k on those days.
However, Tuesdays are my productive days. I finish all my schoolwork in three days so I have Tuesday to write. I’m usually home alone for most of the day, and I can get massive amounts of words out in one day. The first Tuesday of the month I obviously did 10k, and after that I’m hoping to do about 3-4k every week.
As for the actual writing process itself, I usually write in silence. Sometimes I light my amber and sandalwood candle that my sister hates because she thinks it smells like cologne. Generally, I’ll write in my room at my desk with my knees tucked up under me. I write in 50-minute sprints with 10-minute breaks in between, and sometimes I’ll eat snacks or drink my favorite tea. (I’m not being paid to say this, wish I was, but if you like tea, try Tazo’s lemon loaf tea. If you put a little bit of sugar or sweetener in it, it literally tastes like cake. It’s my lifeblood.)
So that’s how my NaNo is going! Thank you so much, Christine, for hosting this linkup. I’m having lots of fun with it!
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how’s it going?
I’ll see you next Wednesday!