I did it. I reached my first major milestone on my first ever novel: the halfway point. This is a huge accomplishment for me, and I feel very proud. I restarted this story several times, over a period of several months, before my frantic drafting truly began. And I mean HARD RESTARTS. Like, new outline, new characters, starting from scratch from page one. Again and again. Finally in September 2015, 4 months ago, I got an outline to stick. Then I got a first act to stick. I ended up writing 40,000 words in 4 months, hardly any of which were repurposed from past drafts. I have never in my life written so much in such a span of time!
The key, it turns out, was pure commitment, which turned into habit. With the help of my wonderful (read: stern) boyfriend, I committed to waking up an hour early every day so I could write before work. I am the opposite of a morning person. My typical work day used to begin with me waiting until the last possible second to get up (hitting snooze all the while), then rushing to get showered and dressed, doing makeup at stop lights in the car, and arriving at work 15-20 minutes late, sometimes forgetting my coffee. Well, I still arrive 15-20 minutes late, but the several hundred written words back home make it worth it! And not only do I write every morning before work, but also 2-3 evenings after work. Getting into this daily habit has been career-changing, if not life-changing (that remains to be seen). This was truly the turning point for this particular project, anyway. And I have the word count now to prove it!
(Side note: if you don’t track your daily and weekly word counts in excel, I don’t know how you live. Sometimes that number at the end of the day is the ONLY thing I am proud of.)
I’ve done other things this year that I am also pretty pleased with. Here are a few, for posterity’s sake:
-I placed in the 2nd round at the Austin Film Festival with my one-hour original pilot script, AGE OF AMERICA (available to read on my website). I went to the festival and met some really great people, and got to watch amazing panels. I even got to pitch my pilot to a woman who wrote on one of my favorite TV shows, “Battlestar Galactica” (her name is Anne Cofell Saunders, if you’re curious). Nothing concrete has come of my trip to ATX, but even if all of it only ends up amounting to an extra shot of validation, it’s worth it. (I often do not feel like a “real” writer, despite having a fucking degree in it, winning a fucking award for it right out of school, and the fact that I write EVERY. FUCKING. DAY. So some extra validation is always welcome…)
-I read 26 amazing books in 2015, the most I have read in one year…maybe…ever. And all but 3 were written by women. GIRL POWER. YEAH, BITCH.
-I moved in with my boyfriend. It has been absolutely lovely, and not difficult at all (which I was afraid of because I fear any sort of change). We have a 2 bedroom apartment. Joe brought his 2 cats, which I get to pet and play with and cuddle, but do not have to feed or clean up after. It’s perfect! On weekends we drink coffee slowly and watch cartoons, then we read, cook, don’t shower until evening, and fall asleep watching movies. We don’t ever get dressed. #truelove
-I learned how to cook pasta and rice. Don’t laugh!
-I started yoga, kept it up for a good few months, then fell off the habit. But I was doing it! Even setting foot in a fitness class is really big for me (see: fear of change above).
-I saw Star Wars twice on opening day. This was an accident, but I feel like I need to mention it.
2016 is just around the corner, and I am very excited to see what is to come.