Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

Never stop dreaming, 'cause the day you stop dreaming, is the day you stop living.


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Mixed Emotions: College Life and A Surprise

Tuesday, my life as a college student will begin again. This is both an annoyance and a savior. It means I will have something to do with my time, which is great as I work better when I have more things to do, but at the same time, I don’t want to go.

Last year, my class existed out of thirteen students. This year, we’re down to eight. Supposedly, due to our class’ small size and a lack of teachers, there will be cuts made to the amount of hours we spend at college. I don’t know how everything will turn out, but I assume I’ll find out on my first day back.

With my education so rapidly approaching, I need to make the best of my last two free days. Today, I will be relaxing by playing some video games and chatting with some friends. I already wrote 2,004 words today, so I deserve the break! Tomorrow, I’ll close the gap between my current word count and 50,000 and see what I do with the remaining time. So much to do and so little time to do it.

I’m less than 800 words away!

That’s life, isn’t it? Next time I set a word count goal, I’m not going to wait until the last week to go for it. Despite the late start, it looks like I’ll be hitting it in time.

Really, it doesn’t do much good.

On another note – if I make my 50,000 word count goal by Tuesday, you’ll have a surprise coming this Friday. What it is, I won’t spoil. I’ll just say that some of you have asked about it and I hope you’ll enjoy it. I will give you a hint, though:

It involves Tales of The Forbidden.

You shouldn’t worry, though. Something horrible would have to happen for me to not make it.

50k, here I come!

How do you feel about returning to college, if you still go? Is it as much of a mixed experience for you as it is for me?

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Change of Pace: Summer Holidays

Very little feels better than getting that piece of paper that signifies your grades at the end of the semester and coming to realize that you passed with flying colors. Top of the class and on to the next year.

One of the things that surpasses that sensation is time off; six weeks, exactly. As of yesterday, June 22nd, my holiday has begun and I will have freedom until the 9th of August. A month and a half that I will use to work on my novel, catch up on my reading and just general relaxing. My novel is at a solid 36,000 words now. By the end of my holiday, I intend to have at least 50,000; it is very likely I will overcome that obstacle and venture even closer to my last word count.

To give a more precise plan: It is my goal to write a minimum of 5,000 words per week. With that schedule, I shall reach 50,000 by the midway point of my vacation. By extent, it means I could easily hit 65,000 words by August. Let’s make that my secondary goal, shall we?

The nifty little progress bar on the side of my page will change when I complete a chapter. After the holidays, it’ll reach at least 50%. Making my secondary task will have it at 75%. That’s progress, if I ever saw any.

I plan to get so much writing done, because I have a busy year ahead of me. As it is my exam year, I’m unsure how much time I’ll have to spend on my novel – and writing in general. It is a journey into the unknown. When the time comes, we will know how matters turn out. I will make it work. Nothing, even impending exams, will keep me from finishing this book by my nineteenth birthday.

As for unknown and uncharted territories; I will find my way into one from the 24th of September until the 21st of October. For four weeks, I will live with a yet-unnamed family in France, for an obligatory abroad work experience, organized by my college. For almost a month, I shall live and work in France; I will learn the culture, improve my language skills and find inspiration in ways that I never would have otherwise. Even if I cannot write while there; when I return, I will have inspiration aplenty.

Nothing will stand in my way of completing this novel, nor commencing the editing process and its sequel.

What are your plans when it comes to writing this summer? Do you have specific plans for your blog, reading or writing? Or do you have different plans altogether?


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New Place; Alive and Still Kicking

In the very least, this past week has been hectic.

Between working overtime at my part-time job, having my last busy week in college and getting ready to move to a new apartment; life wanted to make sure every shred of my time went to those three things. Needless to say, I have done little to no writing this past week, but change is coming!

College is nearing its close, I expect work will be less severe and as of today, we moved in.

This means I won’t need to spend as much time on those matters and will free up time for my writing. A very good thing, I do believe. I intend to do a lot of writing throughout the summer holidays. I have a word count to catch up on and I want one novel finished, at the very latest, by the end of 2011. My last chance to get a fair amount of writing done might be summer, as after the holidays I will enter my college exam year. As if it couldn’t get any worse, I will also be abroad for four weeks. While the prospect is intriguing and I am very much looking forward to working in France for a month, as part of my education; it will cut into my time. Depending on how things go while I’m abroad, though, I will attempt to get writing done every day, even if it’s only a paragraph.

But for now, I’m going to spend the rest of the day relaxing and hopefully getting some writing done. It’s been a long day, so I’m looking forward to kicking back and letting the rest of the day pass by; uneventfully, preferably.

My next blog will focus more on my writing, promise.

How do you deal with writing while life is throwing obstacles at you? Have you ever worked or studied in a foreign country and if so, how did you deal with it?


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Dodging the Law

Or, in the case, teachers.

I’m typing this in the middle of English class, bored out of my mind. We’re on the computers, so I figured; what better to do than start writing a blog?

Go away, teacher. Stay towards the front of the class.

We’re practising business conversations – hotel reservations and the like.

Speaking of writing; I have written lately, but my time dispersed all over the place between college, writing, my job and moving. We’re moving at the end of the month and we’ve already been packing and moving things to the new house. My poor books – they’re probably so lonely without me. I know I feel alone without them.

I am working on settling back into a regular schedule when it comes to updating my blog. The next two or three weeks will be a little rough as teachers are piling on last-minute tests before the summer holidays, but then I’ll sort things.

Once a week, Natasha. Once a week.

I’ve said that a lot before, but I promise it’ll become reality.

The teacher isn’t even paying attention to me.

That’s all I have to say right this moment; this is just a quick update to let you know what’s been going on. Saturday will be great! My parents and I will be heading to Cologne to see the Exhibition of Tutankhamun’s tomb. It’ll be a nice day out, something I really need after all the school work.

Expect an awe-filled blog not long after Saturday. I can’t promise I’ll hide my ecstasy and have millions of things I need to get off my chest.

Cheers.

How do you handle mixing college or work with writing and regular patterns, or goals? What would you recommend others to do?


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Breaking Out The Big Guns

Education is both a gift and a sin.

For these past two weeks, college has piled on so much work that I have been unable to find time to write – both this blog and my fiction writing. To prevent this from keeping up, my Easter Holidays have decided to arrive at a convenient time. In two days, Friday the 15th of April, my vacation will start and I will be free from class until May 2nd. This means the days will be long, time will be there, and specific Word documents will get dusted off.

My deadline for the first draft of my novel is approaching.

With all this free time on my hands (because, honestly; the holidays are pretty much here already), it’s time to up my game.

7,500. One week. Three weeks of vacation.

Minimum.

What this means is that I intend to write at least 7,500 words a week throughout this blessed freedom. It breaks down to 1,500 words in five days – nine to five, excluding weekends. Writing is a job; a profession to focus on like any other career, or else it will smack me in the face and send me rolling downhill until I hit the brick wall at the bottom called Writer’s Block.

I don’t want that to happen.

With the amount of 7,500 words a week and nearly three weeks of holiday, that totals to 22,500 words. I’m at 19,070 words now – I would essentially write at least double what I’ve done thus far, if not more. That progress sounds like the gentle tone of Angel’s singing Hallelujah in my ears. Or maybe more like Eureka.

Either way, progress is good. I won’t fight it, but I’ll sure as heck fight for it.

The work I have during my vacation is minimal – a couple of hours here and there, so there’s no reason for me not to write. I will hit 22,500 and I’ll try my best to soar through that and end up further than I expected. 50,000 total, anyone? I’m only 30,930 words away from that. A little over 10,000 words a week for these three weeks and I’ll reach it.

If I manage that, I’ll be ecstatic and you’ll definitely know it. For now, it’s time to get started on the 7,500 words between now and next Wednesday. I’m living this very second, so why not get it started, right?

What is the most you’ve ever written in a week, or a day? How did you do it?


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Down With The Sickness: Defeat It

As of this moment, I will do my best to update regularly.

I will blame my lack of updating on the fact that for the second time in six weeks, I ended up with an infection that affected my ears, throat and sinuses. It wasn’t pretty. The last time I had it, it started on a Sunday morning, I stubbornly went to class on Monday, then finally went to the doctor’s office Tuesday morning. I got sent home with medicine and a note obligating me to stay home for the rest of the week.

This time, I was perfectly alright. Tuesday evening, my throat started to act up. I went to bed, hardly slept due to it worsening and went to the doctor’s office first thing Wednesday morning. I wasn’t taking chances. This time, I got sent home with the same medicine, along with antibiotics and nose drops, and a note matching the previous one. In total, I had to take six pills a day; it was not pleasant, but I survived.

That weekend, a week ago, I felt well enough to write and I ended up spewing out words like there was no tomorrow. During the course of the weekend, I wrote over 3,500 words. To top matters off, I wrote 2,960 words this Wednesday. Three chapters completed within five days. If anything, getting ill helped me find my muse. Not only am I ecstatic that my inspiration is treating me well, but it has inspired me to create a new goal.

I will finish the first draft by the end of June, the start of my summer holidays.

While I don’t know yet how long this novel will be (probably in the 60,000 – 80,000 range), I do know that I’m at 19,057 words now and still have a lot to go. But that won’t deter me from hitting that goal. If all goes as planned and I finish the first draft by the end of this school year, I’ll let the draft collect dust throughout summer as I start the second book. When college starts back up again, I’ll get the draft off the shelf and start the editing process. How it goes from there, I’ll see when that time comes.

Instead of just informing about my writing habits, I’d like to give some advice that I find helpful. Have someone proofread your novel, whether they read each chapter as you finish it or wait until you’ve completed the draft. Assistance from a friend or family member is essential and not only does it help you to improve your writing, but hearing what someone else thinks about what you’ve written will keep you motivated.

Before, my urge to write wavered. Now, I have an amazing friend who not only reads each chapter when it’s written, but who is always willing to discuss in great detail what she thinks of the different aspects of the story. Her help makes a huge difference and there is nothing I can do to express my gratitude properly.

Thank you.

What do you find useful when you write and edit? Do you have one, or multiple, people proofread your draft, or do you do things a different way?