Friday, December 16, 2016

7 Favorite Writing Memories From 2016

Writing down good memories can be a bit misleading on the internet. It makes it look like your life was one Tangled lantern fest (not that I've ever seen Tangled...). But this year, I'm liking to look at recounting 2016 as little lanterns of memory and goodness that God has sent throughout the year. Otherwise it's easy to get sucked into the negative of what didn't happen or what you wish hadn't happened. It's all about--gratitude.

I could choose to look at the fact that I thought I'd have the second draft of War of Honor done up to the midpoint and off to beta readers. Life derailed that. 2016 was hard. But God was there. God is here, right now. There were gifts that he sent to unwrap all throughout the year...and these are some of the good memories he sent to me writing wise. Both beacon lights of hope, and Ebenezer stones of faithfulness.

1. Camp NaNo
Camp NaNo was a treat this spring. I had a pretty epic cabin of ten people, and great was the encouragement, awesome snippet sharing, and general camaraderie. Nano lights up my life and sharing snippets fuels my work. I was writing the portion of War of Honor about the Spanish flu epidemic, something I'd been waiting to write (and had scenes written about) for years. I also wrote one of my favorite scenes ever in the entire novel, inspired by Hobbit theme music.

so presh i can hardly stand it  

2. Celebrating character birthdays. 
I have many lingering memories of happiness from 2016. One of the dearest connected to my characters was the random night a friend and I went in quest for apple pie to celebrate Ben Dorroll's birthday. Apple pie is his thing, and I'd never celebrated his birthday with it before. We found the loveliest, yummiest little apple pie, the perfect size, and had birthday dessert for two, sitting in the front seat of our car and laughing like children of sunshine. I still have the cardboard box the pie came in. I just can't bear to throw it away.

don't judge 

Also, it was super cool, thanks to all y'all's questions on Jaeryn's birthday, to discover why he dislikes shortbread (I didn't include all the details in the post because they have to do with a mystery.) In writing War of Honor, I heard him hint at various cases he's been involved in after SEVEN YEARS OF SECRECY. Seriously, that guy said nothing all this time. But someone spilled his secrets for him. And I was like whoa, the world needs The Casebook of Jaeryn Graham. DV, you'll get one someday. Now forget I said that, because it's going to be a while. Though hopefully not a decade or anything.

i just don't think this folkestone stuff is ever going to end 

3. Reading my stories with friends 
We were in the car with friends on the way to a beach in Canada, and we decided to read one of the Caribbean novellas on the way. It's a novella with a certain mix of sweetness + trauma in it, told completely through means of emails, letters, and social media. I really had a lot of fun writing that in story form, though it was written in late 2015. As we read, we laughed and lingered together, taking turns every time a different character started writing. We couldn't have timed the cliffhangers better.

4. Attending Writer's conferences 
Getting to attend two local writer's conferences this year was a dream come true. I didn't know it was possible to have my creative well so deeply filled as it was at each place. There were fun, creative people to talk to, times to wander and commune with my own soul, and idea after idea pouring through my mind on ways to make my stories better, or new stories to start writing. Writing flash fiction in the sand (it was not romantic, the black flies were biting) and crying over characters in an empty gym late at night made for some pretty great memories.

5. Writing in odd settings 
I've written in a car on the way to Missouri, in a car on the way to Texas, and in a car dealership while my brother bought a car. This car theme seems to be a thing. It was good practice to write on the go, even when life came up and changed plans once in a while.

6. The Coffee Shop Experience 
I also got to experience this thing called writing in coffee shops. I don't know if I'd never been able to before, or just never had the cash to blow $5 a drink, but at any rate, I found myself coffee shop writing several times this year. Jaeryn got his due when I celebrated on his birthday with a pumpkin spice latte. I also got to write at a little local coffee shop while attending a writer's conference with a special friend. I'm not sure what I loved more: the new story idea, Escape from Windermere, or the lovely, creamy mug of chai latte, with foam that would make you weep with joy.

7. Finishing War of Honor 
But my favorite coffee shop experience was the day I finished War of Honor. I had made a coffee date with a friend, so I brought my laptop and wrote a bit beforehand. Tying up loose memories in a series is always nostalgic. Tying them up in company with I Vow to Thee My Country and The Last Goodbye on repeat achieved the perfect note of poignancy. In this series, I equaled the Lord of the Rings for word count, which was pretty epic. And though the ending needs some tweaking, I think by the time it's done it will pack just the right emotional punch for all the characters (and the readers) will have experienced along the journey.

Gifts of friends-- of The Ends, and ideas, creativity, strength, music to write to, people to share stories with, and characters to celebrate--these are some things I'm so grateful to God for from 2016. And though I don't have time to write eloquently, since work is calling, I can't wait for 2017, where I hope you'll be able to click that little purchase button next to something with my name on it.

As the Lord leads.

What are some of your favorite writing memories of 2016? Tell me all--I'd love to know!


  1. I love all of these! I've never had the coffee shop experience yet, but I'd love to sometime. And I can't wait to click that little button with your name next to it! I greatly enjoyed spending time with you and CG at Nationals this year, too. :D

    1. It was so fun to see you at Nats this year too! You would love writing in a coffee shop, Katherine. If you're ever out our way, I'll take you to the local one for chai lattes with CG! :) I can't wait for the purchase button by YOUR name too! :D

  2. Thanks for sharing some of your special highlights of the year. It was good to remember that the Lord is faithful and unchanging through the highs and lows.

    I always love the tiny parenthetical comments in the miniscule font size. Sometimes I read them first. :D

    1. I think this year has been one where the Lord's faithfulness has been so clear. I'm hoping to do a word collage of themes/events/memories for the year too. ;)

      I love writing those. XD I'm so glad you enjoy reading them.

  3. "We were in the car with friends on the way to a beach in Canada, and we decided to read one of the Caribbean novellas on the way....As we read, we laughed and lingered together, taking turns every time a different character started writing."

    And I got to read my favorite part. ;) <3 Special memories.

    Good to trace the Lord's faithfulness in challenging times. <3


    1. :D :D I'm so glad you did! I remember you reading that part with great fondness. <3 God has been good this year.



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