NASCENT WITCH, NaNoWriMo, New Project, and More!

Happy November, everyone!

It has been a whirlwind for me since the release of NASCENT WITCH, which I can’t quite believe has been in the world for over 3 weeks already. I’ve had some lovely shout-outs from friends and readers in that time:

 

And a very exciting mention from Den of Geek (I might have actually screamed):

But I’ve also been too busy to relax into all of the post-release fun, because November means National Novel Writing Month! As a Municipal Liaison, I’m having a blast running lots of events with my co-MLs (here in the NYC region, we’re hosting at least one event per day, and usually more than that)!

This month, though, I’m not writing as much as I’d planned to, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I love the excitement, creative energy, and especially the community of NaNoWriMo, but I often find myself using the Camp NaNo months (April and July) for the drafting of new projects. October and November seem to be revision/planning months for me, which at first struck me as just a frustrating coincidence (I want to aim for 50K just like all my fellow Wrimos!). But after some reflection, I think this repeated coincidence actually may point to a year-long writing schedule I wasn’t even aware I had.

I suspect that in part, this schedule definitely has to do with the change in seasons: I’ve never been diagnosed with anything like seasonal affective disorder, but I can say pretty confidently that in winter, I sleep a lot more and mornings are a total nightmare. I loathe waking up before the sun! Also, when it’s dark by 4:00, by 6:00 I’m just assuming it’s 10:00 at night; I lose all sense of time once the sun’s down.

Of the NaNoWriMo challenges, I always find that Camp NaNoWriMo in April is a huge success for me. I often surpass my goal, and I feel absolutely wonderful creating during that month. And this makes sense: daylight saving time is in effect and we’ve had a few weeks to adjust to it, and there are more hours of light each day. Something about increased hours of light gives me a sense of growing possibility, and that can feel a whole lot like inspiration.

Does this mean I’m only a springtime writer? Far from it! But I have noticed that I experience a huge spike in drafting from April through July. When August hits, I’m usually wrapping projects up and getting ready to query agents and/or submit stories in the fall. That throws me into a few months of hardcore revision, from August until mid-December. I kind of catch a second wind of that springtime energy during the winter holidays, which I absolutely love, and snowy days give me that same sense of possibility I experience in the spring. I often see another spike in my word counts during this time, as a result. February and March are also big revision/planning/querying/submitting months, and then spring is upon me again!

This is not to say you’ll never catch me drafting on Valentine’s Day or writing away on Halloween. I do tend to write at least three days a week during every week of the year, and I think it’s important to always have a certain number of active submissions/queries, so if I’m falling behind in those numbers, I will pretty diligently send more stuff out.

But I’m glad that I’ve realized there’s a pattern to how I do this writing thing, because when November has hit each year, I’ve often felt myself feeling confused and discouraged. Why haven’t I composed as much during NaNo proper as I did during Camp? Camp was easy! At one point, I thought ML-ing was the cause, and there’s a truth in that: when you’re worried about organizing and leading events for a bunch of other writers, you’ve got less time to invest in your own writing. In the end, though, it’s just not writing season for me: it’s revision season, and since I’m always Team NaNo Rebel, I can totally honor that.

There is more on the horizon for my writing at the moment, though! I can’t get specific yet, but I will soon be able to announce a short story that I sold this past spring. It’s going to be part of an anthology that I’m thrilled to be included in, and I can’t wait to say more than that! Soon, I promise.

Also, I am currently working on a short story collection that I’ll be putting out in 2021. It’s actually the second collection I’ve worked on; I’m still aiming to traditionally publish the first (for reasons I won’t get into right now). But I am very excited about this new collection! It’s going to contain many stories I’m quite proud of, in no small part because I’ve flagged a lot of my misfits for it. I’ve had more than a few editors of journals send me rejections, and instead of leaving them at form letters, they’ve added personal notes along the lines of: “We were totally split on this one,” or “I was one of the people who voted for this but I didn’t win,” or, my favorite, “I loved this but half my colleagues didn’t even know what to do with it because X element was too weird for them.”

When someone says they love me but their friends find me too bizarre, I feel like I’m achieving a goal I made without realizing it, and one that, at least as far as my short fiction goes, is very close to my heart.

So, this collection will be at points sweet and at points frightening, often creepy, and strange throughout. It differs starkly from NASCENT WITCH in many ways, but especially in what I’m aiming to get from my readers. I wanted readers to really relate to NASCENT WITCH and to Sela, its main character, to the extent that for many, that book should feel like a hug from a friend who’s survived something you’re going through right now. This collection will not be an embrace by any stretch of the imagination, but I do hope that it leaves readers wanting to find a friend who’s also read it because they absolutely have to discuss at least one of the stories contained within.

That’s the goal! We’ll see how it goes.

And that’s it from me for now! If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, I wish you all of the words a writer could want! And if you’re not, may your November be full of good books, fuzzy socks, warm sweaters, and delightful mugs of cocoa,
Melissa

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