There are a lot of things I learned this month. Although I had fun this month, I didn’t really win. So I decided to write about three fundamental truths that I learned from this whole experience.
Lesson number 1: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
Back up everything. If you’re using Scrivener, learn how to export your stuff properly and save everything under a new file. Don’t replace old stuff. And don’t throw anything away. You might find some good stuff in your old stories.
Lesson 2: Take your time.
I still stand by what I said about how outlines are basically guidelines, but this NaNoWriMo I learned that I can’t write by the seat of my pants the way I used to. This may not apply to everyone, but I definitely realize that I needed to dedicate more time in prepping this novel. I needed time to create detailed outlines, character profiles, and worldbuilding notes. Even if you’re a pantser, you still need to take some time to develop everything that’s in your head and give it some structure.
Lesson 3: Cheaters never prosper.
While I’m glad that I have a lot of old stories in my archives, it never felt right just copying and pasting stuff from them to add to my word count. Each novel is its own unique universe and you have to treat it as such. If you find something in your old WIPs that might fit into your new book, you still have to rework it to fit with the new book.
I hope everyone had a great time with NaNoWriMo. My personal wish is that I do better next year. But I think we can all aspire to that. There’s always room for improvement and there’s no shame in starting over on a blank slate.
I’m having a love/hate relationship with reputation era Taylor Swift. So lemme get all the “hate” out of the way first. I had no knowledge of her big scandal/feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. I trust Taylor Swift way more than Kanye and Kim. What I don’t trust Taylor Swift on right now is her love life. This album isn’t exactly “telling it like it is.” And I’m not gonna go into a tirade about how disappointed I am that Taylor is “not that innocent” anymore. Someone else did it for me.
That said, I still love Taylor Swift. In the end, I want her to be happy and I want to believe that once she properly deals with her issues instead of being insecure and drinking too much, she will finally find the happiness she has been looking for.
This blog post won’t be a moral tirade of how Taylor needs to change, though. Instead, I want to tell you whether this album is worth your money on a track-by-track basis. You can buy the individual tracks on Amazon or just listen to the promotional singles on YouTube, but it’s ultimately up to you whether this album is worth your money.
After listening to the album from beginning to end, only two out of the 15 tracks are ones that I can guarantee that everyone will love: “Call It What You Want” and “New Year’s Day.” The rest…well, read on and decide for yourself.
There’s also a theory that each of the fifteen Taylors from the end of the “Look What You Made Me Do” represents one of the tracks on this album. I’ll be guessing which Taylor the song might be about.
- ...Ready For It? : 6/10. I love the music video for this song more than the song itself. The lyrics are dangerous and provocative. Also, I so don’t believe the line “I’m so very tame now.” Not with the way you’re talking in this track, Taylor! I think the Taylor in the fishnet stockings fits this song because of how Taylor dressed when she performed it on SNL.
- End Game (featuring Ed Sheeran & Future): 7/10. This is a hip-hop/rap track that I have to admit is fun and catchy, but Future’s presence is honestly unnecessary. I kinda swoon over Ed Sheeran’s voice, though. I think the “Shake it Off” ballerina Taylor fits this song because it’s reminiscent of 1989’s sound. Best line: “I swear I don’t love the drama. It loves me.”
- I Did Something Bad: 3/10 because the bridge was the only part I liked. You know the Taylor in the velvet leotard with the word “rep” at the center? This one embodies her. A dark and twisted song with a chorus that basically embodies the nature of sin: It starts out feeling good, but you kinda resign yourself to it. “This is how the world works” is the most telling lyric. Also, they didn’t burn witches in the Salem Witch Trials.
- Don’t Blame Me: 1/10. This song is basically Blank Space 2.0, represented by the bank robber Taylor who’s wearing a sweater that says “Blinded by Love” and got compared to Harley Quinn. Comparing your love to a drug is too Ke$ha 2009. Can’t you be more like present-day Ke$ha who’s singing about praying?! The most telling lyric: “Baby for you, I would fall from grace.”
- Delicate: 6/10. This song is almost authentically vulnerable, which is why I think it corresponds with the sparkly dress Fearless-era Taylor. Meeting a new guy, being uncertain of whether this will work? Hoping that someone will love you for who you truly are? That I can relate to. Inviting him up to your room and saying “I don’t wanna share”? Not so much. Basically, I like the pre-chorus, chorus, and bridge more than the verses. “Is it too soon to do this?” Honey, I think it’s too late.
- Look What You Made Me Do: 3/10. There are many reasons why this song doesn’t work for Taylor. The biggest reason is that this is a villain song and even though she tried with the whole Snake Queen look, Taylor is not a villain. She’s just majorly flawed. That said, somebody made an AMV to this song using Death Note and it is perfect.
- So It Goes…: 1/10. I don’t like this track. It sounds good, but…let’s just say that the Taylor in the giant birdcage is a great indicator of the state of Taylor’s soul right now. (And yes, I know I said it before. It bears repeating.) This and a few other songs on here can easily fit on a 50 Shades soundtrack, with lyrics like “You know, I’m not a bad girl, but I do bad things with you” and “scratches down your back.” And that’s not a good thing.
- Gorgeous: 8/10. I loved this song when this came out, but upon listening to it more, it’s starting to sound like a mixed bag. The song is relatable because everyone has probably found someone attractive even though they were in a relationship with someone else. Acting on those feelings is another story. Best line: “Guess I’ll just stumble on home to my cats.” I think Met Gala Taylor represents this song cuz the dress is gorgeous.
- Getaway Car: 6/10. I’m pretty sure this song is about Calvin and Tom. The way that Taylor is telling the story, it paints Tom as being her “rebound guy” from Calvin and the relationship in this song sounds like it didn’t last long, doomed from the start. Biker Girl Taylor is the best candidate for the representative for this song as Taylor compares herself and the person in the song to “Bonnie and Clyde.”
- King of My Heart: 9/10. I love the song conceptually. The idea of finding real love after thinking you’re done with it, not to mention wanting a more simple life? More of this please! Just cut out the line “We rule the kingdom inside my room” and this song would basically be perfect. Also, the chorus of my song is MY LIFE! It takes me to Heaven and back! The “You Belong With Me” Taylor in the Junior Jewels shirt definitely fits this song!
- Dancing With Our Hands Tied: 5/10. I have no clue who this song is about. On the one hand, I want to pick the Out of the Woods zombie Taylor because the song is about uncertainty in the midst of a relationship, but a lot of Swifties compared this song to “Holy Ground,” which means it’s more like the Red Era Circus Ringmaster Taylor. I don’t like the title of this song, either, cuz…well, the image that comes to mind is very 50 Shades of Grey.
- Dress: 2/10. This song is the most 50 Shades aside from “Don’t Blame Me.” Give this song an R rating for explicit, provocative lyrics! (That was not a compliment.) My best friend thinks that it could work if you think that the dress is a wedding dress, but this song is far from being romantic, even if it sounds ethereal. This song isn’t “deep and tender,” as Taylor claims. It’s just one big “F#$& Me” song. Also, I have no clue which Taylor fits this song.
- This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: 5/10. The Taylor dressed in a cheetah print coat talking about “getting receipts” fits this song because this is a good-sounding, bitchy, condescending song that gives a big middle finger to Kanye and Kim. This is the song that comes to mind when I think of “complaining about being famous” songs. I really hope you forgive Kanye and Kim someday, Taylor, because forgiveness isn’t a “nice thing to do,” it’s a necessity if you really want to move on and be happy. That said, she should have made this her first single because it’s honestly clever.
- Call It What You Want: 9/10. This song is such a huge mood whiplash from the previous song. But I loved this song from the moment I heard it and still love it. The idea of having someone in your corner in the midst of all the hard times in life is something I love. But Taylor definitely seems happy in the lyric video for this song. Since the Taylor in the background is standing on a plane, I can’t help but hope that this is the song that represents the Real Taylor.
- New Year’s Day: 10/10. If there’s one song that I think everyone should buy, it’s this one. The lyrics are basically “relationship goals” in song form: spending time with the one you love and cleaning up after a party, planning for the future, promising forever, being with him/her for better or for worse. I love that Taylor plays the piano because it just sounds beautiful. This is the best sounding track, musically and lyrically. This is also one I think represents the Real Taylor, the one standing in the back.
I hope Taylor’s next album will be one I can love with all my heart and sound more like the last two tracks. As it is, I’ll just live with the “Dark Taylor” and pray that this is just a phase.
For a bit of #FlashbackFriday fun, I want to join in on the “Best Book Related Memories” tag. The rules of the game: list 3 of your favorite memories that relate to books, whether it means reading a book, writing a book, or just has anything to do with books in general.
Thanks to Jenna Moreci for tagging me (and all her other viewers).
- My first real “short story.” For the longest time, ever since I had internet access, I wrote fanfiction. Really, really, really bad fanfiction. But then I decided to write what is called a “song fic” to Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi” because basically, everyone was doing it and created original characters to fit the story of the song. When I printed out the first version of this short story, I marveled at how many pages I wrote. This “short story,” dear friends, was what inspired me to want to write a novel. It eventually led to the creation of Jack, Lorelei, Kira, Travis, and Evelyn. You will be meeting them in my Tales of the Vocati series. It took me a long time to find the right story for these characters.
- How I got into Jane Austen. The way I got into Jane Austen wasn’t through watching Becoming Jane or reading one of her books, although when I was a kid, I saw episodes of Wishbone that adapted a few of her novels. No, it was through a biography: Emily Auerbach’s Searching For Jane Austen. It was in my high school library. It’s not an easy biography to find, but to me, it fascinated me that someone tried to understand a writer based on the works they wrote. It’s a modern way to figure out a person and it doesn’t always apply to every writer, but I liked the idea of Jane being more than just someone who wrote romantic stories. There was some real depth to them. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, I highly recommend reading this biography.
- Sci-fi Meets Classic Literature I don’t usually read sci-fi as a genre. I am tired of dystopias and stories of corrupt governments oppressing everyone. For me, fiction is about escapism and getting to know characters on a personal level. Then I read the Jane E trilogy by Erin McCole Cupp. Die-hard Jane Austen fans like myself will tell you that most of the time, fans of classic literature will either pick Austen or the Bronte Sisters for their favorite 19th Century female writer. That particular disagreement applies to me and my best friend. The ironic thing is that in spite of having Asperger’s Syndrome, I can understand the witty ironies and sarcasm in Jane Austen’s prose whereas my neurotypical best friend can’t. In contrast, my best friend doesn’t consider herself a romantic, but really loves Jane Eyre. I love the character of Jane Eyre, but hate Rochester with every fiber of my being. It took reading this trilogy for my best friend and me to find something we agree on in terms of Jane Eyre. The classic heroine is a lot more active in this version, Rochester is somewhat more sympathetic and likeable, and the themes of integrity ring truer here than in the original version.
Share your favorite book-related memories in the comments.
This is going to be more of a listicle than an actual blog post, but since I have hit 25,000 words in the first draft of my novel My Ex is a Vampire. Here are some things I learned so far:
- I am not a pantser. This is the most pantsing that I’ve ever done for NaNoWriMo. I have an outline, but it wasn’t exactly detailed. I’m not saying that next time I draft this, I will have everything written down to the letter, but I should have a better idea of where things will go. Also, when I started writing out my characters, the unresolved romantic tension between my two lead characters started way earlier than expected. If you want to get an idea of Jane’s state of mind at the start of the book, listen to this song.
- The novel has started out in this funny, lighthearted way, but lately I’m writing more dramatic, heavy scenes. And while I know that things get more dramatic as the stakes get raised, I’m wondering how the heck I’m gonna balance all the humor with the more serious stuff.
- I tend to be more productive at night. I don’t exactly know why this happening, but I tend to write more when it’s nighttime. This may not apply to every writer, but I know a good number of writers who are night owls. The problem with that is that I still need my 8 hours of sleep.
So basically, this particular NaNoWriMo has been an interesting learning experience. I know that everyone says that first drafts are supposed to suck, but I can’t help but think I should write a better first draft. How crazy is that?
I love NaNoWriMo. It’s a great opportunity for me to work on something new. I’m still planning on finishing up my edits for Love Notes, but right now, my energy is going into my lovely urban fantasy/paranormal/YA book My Ex is a Vampire, the first installment of a series that I’m calling The Tales of the Vocati.
The Vocati are ordinary humans who are gifted to fight vampires and other supernatural creatures. My Ex is a Vampire focuses on two high school students: Jane Miller, a class representative who’s practically perfect in every way, and Andy, a delinquent who loves causing trouble.
Something I learned from working on this so far is that the outline that I created has become more of a guideline. I have an idea of what my characters are doing, but my muse has enlightened me about how my characters interact with each other.
For one thing, I forgot how fickle teenagers can be. I really want to show the emotional complexity my main characters feel about the relationships that they’re in, but they’re teenagers. It’s only a matter of time before the relationships fizzle out and they find new people. But I guess that’s what I get for calling this book My Ex is a Vampire. I never thought leading up to the Ex part would be so hard.
Still, this has been the most fun I’ve had with writing in a while. I plan on blogging my progress every week.
Comment your NaNoWriMo progress. What are some things you’ve been learning so far?
NaNoWriMo starts soon. By the time you’re reading this, it’s already Day 1. I decided that I want to start NaNoWriMo off by talking about my project. The best way to do that is to do the All Hallow’s Tag again!
The rules are:
#1 – Provide a BRIEF description of your novel before starting.
#2 – Don’t use the same character for more than 3 answers.
My project for NaNoWriMo is called My Ex is a Vampire, the first installment of a young adult urban fantasy/paranormal series called Tales of the Vocati. The Vocati are humans gifted by the fairies to fight and kill vampires and other evil creatures that lurk in the night. My Ex is a Vampire centers on Jane and Andy, two members of the Vocati. Jane is a student who’s practically perfect in every way. Andy is a delinquent who seems to be nothing but trouble. The only things they have in common? They love to fight vampires, they fight well together, and their exes have become vampires. How will they take their exes down? That’s what I’ll find out this NaNoWriMo.
Here we go.
- It’s Halloween night! What is your protagonist dressed up as? There’s an actual chapter in My Ex is a Vampire that centers on Halloween. Jane dresses up as a girl from the Regency era and Andy dresses up as an aristocratic vampire, also wearing Regency clothes.
- Who in your cast refuses to dress up and shows up at the Halloween party without a costume? Susanna, Andy’s fairy godmother, is one of the few characters who chose not to dress up for Halloween. Susanna seems like your typical housekeeper and she has a very demure look, but she had a very harsh life, growing up during the Marcos era in the Philippines. It’s hard for Susanna to have fun.
- Which character wears the most outrageous costume, and what would it be? At the moment, I’m picturing Donovan, one of Jane’s best friends, dressed up as a clown. He wouldn’t be a scary clown, a la Pennywise or Joker, but more of the typical fun circusy clown. Donovan is very outgoing with a great sense of humor and his senior superlative will be “Class Clown,” so the costume totally fits.
- On Halloween, werewolves, vampires, and zombies are on the prowl. Which of your characters gets caught in their clutches, and which creature do they subsequently turn into? Zombies don’t exist in My Ex is a Vampire, but vampires and werewolves do. Jane’s boyfriend, Conner, and Andy’s girlfriend, Katherine, both get turned into vampires in this novel. Hence the title.
- Who wins the contest for best costume? Although there’s not a costume contest in my novel, I think Leticia would definitely win this. Even though Leticia is introduced as your typical high school cheerleader mean girl, she is also Mexican, so she would dress up with a sugar skull painted on her face and a beautiful traditional Mexican folk costume a la Coco. Leticia sees this as honoring the culture she comes from, especially since she also celebrates Dia de los Muertos.
- Who hands out toothbrushes to the trick and treaters? Principal Mallory, without a doubt. Principal Mallory is the beleagured principal who tries to keep a handle of the craziness that goes on in North Austin High School, where my characters all go. (The story takes place in Austin, TX.) Principal Mallory is all about order and discipline, so she would hand out toothbrushes to remind everyone to take care of their teeth.
- Which two of your characters decide to pair up and do an angel/devil costume together? As surprising as this may sound, Jane’s parents choose to dress up as this for Halloween. Jane’s mom, Bethany, chooses to dress as an angel because it’s an easy costume to wear and she’s a very warm, friendly person. Jane’s stepfather, George, would dress like the devil because he has a very mischievous, deviant past. It also contrasts to his usual bookish, introverted personality.
- Someone is too scared to even attend the Halloween party. Who is it? The most likely candidate for that is Tamara, Jane’s other best friend. Although Tamara usually hangs out with Donovan and Jane, she comes from a very traditional Jewish family and they don’t celebrate Halloween. She’s scared of her parents’ disapproval.
- Who overdoses on Halloween candy and ends up sick? Jane’s younger sister, Gabrielle. Although Gabrielle is a dancer, she also has a sweet tooth that’s the size of Texas. She loves chocolate, sugar cookies, and any and all sorts of candy. She really acts like a kid on Halloween and will probably wake up with a stomachache the next morning.
- Which character is most likely to place a curse/hex on someone and who would they curse? Desdemona without a doubt, given that she is the main villain of the novel. Desdemona is a vampire from the Regency era who has spent the last couple centuries trying to regain what she lost: her lover, her old lifestyle as the owner of a successful brothel, and her vampire family. If she was able to place a curse on the Vocati who killed her lover, she totally would have.
I hope this has intrigued you about my NaNoWriMo project. Feel free to add me as a buddy by clicking on the link here.