Rusty Fork VIII: Nearing the End and Looking Forward

Rusty Fork VIII: Nearing the End and Looking Forward

I have around 20,000 words left to write on my current draft of WCAG. In the grand scheme of things and looking at how far I’ve come, that is not a lot of words, but they are some of the hardest. All the pinning and pissing and lallygagging have led to these words.

I’ve been calling my current draft the second draft when really it’s more like draft 1.5. In January, I was stir crazy and decided to print off everything I had written. I felt like I was walking around a dark cave, bumping into rocks and swiping at unseen bats. I needed to shine a light on my progress. What I found was horrifying:

Boring chapters that led nowhere. Two useless characters eating up scenes. Plot that needed refining and motivations that needed a kick in the head.

I started over with the plot. Dissecting and rearranging scene by scene, trimming the fat, and sewing it back together. I noted the holes and the sore spots. I immediately cut two characters and about 20% of the writing without a second look.

Then I began the current draft. It’s a better draft. Not perfect. It’s still its own monster that will need to torn apart again, but it’s more cohesive and more to the point I’ve been trying to make all along.

For the first time, I feel like I’m coming to the end of something. I’ve started and stopped projects before, but nothing as ever been complete–only glimpses into imperfect daydreams.

I need a plan of attack…

Here are some of the writing goals for the coming months:

  • Finish my “second” draft around 100,000 words

Duh, this one is a given. I have a set a deadline of May 1st, but deadlines are always meant to be broken. I want to finish this draft as soon as possible, though, because I’m starting to grow restless. I have other stories I’d like to plot, but I don’t want to spend too much time on new projects when this is still unfinished.

  • Find a critique partner

This might be the hardest thing on the list, and I still have no idea how to find one. Any suggestions?

  • Take a break!

Read. Relax. Don’t think about WCAG. Stop it! Stop thinking about it! Let it simmer.

  • Take a mini writing retreat to review my second draft and make a game plan for the third

I want to take a solo writing retreat in Hickory, NC. In previous Rusty Fork posts, I’ve mentioned that the town in my story is based heavily on Hickory, NC. I’ve done research on a bed and breakfast in the area, and I would love to take that time for myself when I read through my second draft. I don’t want any distractions. Being at the location of my inspiration would also spark some much needed mood.

  • Vlog more of my writing experience 

I’ve already started this one! This will not become a weekly thing, but I would like to vlog my experiences whenever I’m feeling motivated because I have found others’ vlogs motivational to my own work. I would like to help entertain and inspire others. It would also be neat to have for the future reflections, as well.

So there is a simple list of some short-term goals.

It’s important to remember that the end of the second draft is not the end the story.

It’s all an endless pursuit of artistic endeavors. I can strive for something, though. I can polish the story until it shines, until the surface is clear enough for some reader to see something of themselves on the pages.

I have to make a human story out of a monster.

How hard could that be?

Link to Previous Rusty Fork Posts

Thursday Thoughts: Mourning Halloween

Thursday Thoughts: Mourning Halloween

I need a few moments to mourn the end of Halloween.


I just finished Stranger Things 2 a few days ago, so this post is literally just going to be photos of Winona Ryder being the goth queen inspiration that she is.


Yeah, I’m a basic fucking bitch, still living in the 90s. Let me have this moment. Halloween is over, and now I have to deal with all the mouth breathing, Christmas folk. I just want to live in the dark for a little bit longer.


This Dracula adaptation was horrible, but Winona was beautiful and perfect.


Give me spiky bangs or give me death!


Don’t worry, I won’t post any photos of the Ryder/Depp relationship. He is a scumbag, and I hate how everybody romanticized his relationships with Ryder and Kate Moss. Seriously, go on to any Instagram model’s account or some aesthetic bullshit account, and I bet you $20 they have some black and white photo of either pairing, usually with #goals in the caption.



I watched some pretty great horror flicks this season. The stars were Raw (2016) and Super Dark Times (2017).

Image result for Raw 2016

Image result for super dark times

Both handled extreme violence involving young people. They were shot and acted brilliantly.

Image result for winona ryder gif

Until next Halloween…

Rusty Fork VIII: Coming Back from a Break

Rusty Fork VIII: Coming Back from a Break

I began the initial outline of my current WIP in November of 2016 and started writing shortly after that. We are now entering November 2017, and I stand at 70,000 for the first draft. Based on the scenes left to complete, I have around 10,000 words left. Maybe. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

This is just for the first draft. I know there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Some of the first scenes I worked on will need to be completely overhauled for a more cohesive plot, but I am not discouraged. I have tried my best not to think about everything that needs to be re-done while there is still so much that needs to be done.

Every writer’s process is different. I think that is the hardest part about getting writing advice from others because everybody has their own way of doing it, and that is part of the journey–discovering your way or faking it until you make it (and even faking it once you make it).

In the Nanowrimo world that we live in, it appears you should have a first draft in 2-3 months. Which is mind-boggling! I know there is that fear of letting your story go stale. Trust me, I was fighting that fear through most of the spring, but I have discovered I am a slow first drafter. My work, lifestyle, and mental/creative abilities don’t allow for breakneck-paced writing. This could be seen as an excuse. “You should write everyday.” “Find the time.” I get it. If I was writing full-time, I could probably turn out a draft that quickly. If I wrote during the work week instead of going home to watch Real Housewives every evening, I’d probably be more productive. I’m trying not to focus on the ifs right now. I’m trying not to compare myself to other writers.

I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend around June (yeah! for taking the next step and boo! to rent). My WIP sat, abandoned, in farthest corner of my mind it had ever been. My WIP was malnourished. I thought I was losing it like so many story ideas before. But I learned to feed it. Slowly but consistently. I listened to the playlists that once inspired me. I reread scenes, so I could fall back in love. I wrote out notes to plot solutions that were plaguing me from the beginning. I researched topics that I found interesting. I wrote on work nights. (Gasp!) Maybe only 100-200 words at a time. I wrote writing prompts from the POV of my characters, so I could find their voices again. Like I said, everybody is different. I’m not sure how to tell if a story can be resuscitated after a break, but I did it because I have believed in this story from the beginning. More than any other story before it.

Coming back to a story after a break is much like coming back from a break in any relationship. You have to work at. It cannot be forced. Don’t force yourself to be happy with a story you don’t believe in anymore, but remember, if you still feel it, deep down, you can climb out of any hole, like Samara AKA that chick from the Ring movies.

Other Rusty Fork Posts:

Rusty Fork I: The Why

Rusty Fork II: Strength

Rusty Fork III: The Tools

Rusty Fork IV: Location, Location, Location

Rusty Fork V: Character-sitter


Rusty Fork VII: I failed CAMP NANOWRIMO


Thursday Thoughts

Thursday Thoughts

There’s something buzzing in my head.

Image result for bee gif

I decided one of my minor characters will be a beekeeper. Big mistake. I have spent hours learning about bees because a beekeeper should sound bee-lievable. I don’t even know how big of a role this character will play, or if they’ll even make the final cut. I think beekeeping has become a new form of procrastination.

When does research hinder instead of help a project?

I’m not sure, but bees are so hawt right now.

Bees drinking the water from the Bird Bath.

Bees drinking water with a hummingbird. So cute. omg

Did you know that a queen bee will mate only once? She stores enough sperm to lay eggs for the rest of her life. Oh, and the males lucky enough to mate with her? Their genitals are pulled out while mating, and they die. Talk about a healthy relationship!

Bees are clean freaks. Disease is a very real threat to a colony, so workers will clean off bees who look dirty. When a bee dies, the hive will slowly push the body out one by one like macabre crowd surfing.

Beekeeping is very intense, and my anxiety is not built for a hobby like that. I’d probably quit after the first bee died. Imagine a whole hive!

APIARIST Beekeeping Suit - Fencing Veil - Total Protection for Professional & Beginner Beekeepers

Hawt. Can I get one with pockets?

APIARIST Beekeeping Suit - Fencing Veil - Total Protection for Professional & Beginner Beekeepers

Where did she go?!???

But I see why people do it. It’s not all about the honey, money. From what I’ve read, a lot of people do it because it is a chance to be part of nature. Bees are an integral part of our lives. 80% of food is pollinated by flying insects, and most of that is by the honey bee. A beekeeper is the guardian to thousands and millions of little workers. It’s almost like playing god. Playing god to little bomb ass bitches who would sting you to death if they had the chance. Now that is the dream.


buzz buzz, bitches

Rusty Fork V: Character-sitter

Rusty Fork V: Character-sitter

I don’t know if I explained earlier, but these posts are not going to be filled with advice. Don’t come here looking for a teacher. You will only find a novice writer and part-time adult doing the best she can, which is usually the bare minimum. The analytics say there are, on average, 20 of you who read each post, so I will keep entertaining you as best I can. I live to serve…my own selfish desires.

My characters have become real, living, breathing people. Sometimes, I want to cry because they are so much a part of me now. It’s like how people say you have mastered a language when you dream in that langauge. I am dreaming in the language of my characters. I know them, at least I think I do, and I am finding it easier to write scenes because their thoughts have become second nature.

Yes, I still have a long way to go, and sometimes I get frustrated at the characters because they don’t always do the things I want them to, but I love them through it all. I am an ill-prepared mother, raising these three children on my own, and I really hope I don’t accidentally kill one of them or forget one in a JC Penney. I am more like a 14-year-old on her first babysitting job, and I am terrified that something is going to go wrong. It is my duty to see these characters to the end because they deserve a story. This responsibility causes some stress, but I have never felt so fulfilled in an artistic endeavour.

So I keep writing, and I keep dreaming.

Maybe one day I will give you all a more substantial update, but I am keeping the story close to me for the time being.

Rusty Fork IV: Location, Location, Location

Rusty Fork IV: Location, Location, Location

A road trip down I-40 led me unexpectedly back to the town I was born in, and it’s the town that has inspired the location of my story. I do have a Pinterest board for inspiration, but it’s private. The afternoon was cathartic, and it was inspiring to see, smell, and hear the world I imagined in my head. I tried to picture my characters walking down similar sidewalks. It felt real because it was once real to me, even though I am so completely removed from that world now.

Enjoy a slice of small town life.


Rusty Fork I: The Why

Rusty Fork II: Strength

Rusty Fork III: The Tools

Moons Out of Molehills

Moons Out of Molehills

My grandpa once said the moon was mine. It’s the kind of scene that would open my biopic. It’s a simple story that I was reminded of many times growing up, and I even wrote a super, cheesy paper about it my freshman year of college when I thought I was hot shit. Are you going to tell us the story or what? Well dear reader, I was sitting on the back porch with my grandpa. He pointed to the moon and said, “The moon is yours.” I don’t remember his exact words. I can barely remember what I ate for lunch (broccoli cheddar bread bowl from Panera), but that is essentially what happened. I’m doing a horrible job introducing this post. Get ready for a quick change of tone…

I’ve been thinking about my history with depression and anxiety recently, and I’ve come to liken it to making a coin shine in a moonless night. Once in a while, you might find a street lamp, but it can seem like a hopeless task for most of the journey. I’m not saying that there is one right or one wrong way to handle these issues, but I do want to talk about my own struggles and where I am now.

I was always called a worrier or an over thinker. They were traits to trivialize or ignore. My mother would laugh it off, “That’s just Liz.” She didn’t do it out of carelessness or spite. I think, in her own way, she wanted to normalize what I was feeling so that I would feel normal. I am a sheet of paper. My mother is the paperweight on top. She has kept me grounded through the years. She is the one that suggested I try counseling. She is the one who told me to go for a run when I was getting anxious. She is not perfect, but she is perceptive and strong.

College created physical distance between us, but she was always there for me. I had a really hard time. A. really. hard. time. Sometimes I didn’t know if I would graduate. Sometimes I didn’t know if I would live. Some people say, “Oh man, college was the best years of my life.” Not me. You could not pay me to go back to that head space. The constant worry about my future. The worry. People forget how exhausting worry can be. There were days I was too tired to eat or sleep. I lost my freshman 15, and then I gained 30 back.I joined a sorority. I lived with roommates. I had a steady boyfriend. I should have been happy, and then I was angry when I wasn’t. I was angry that I couldn’t ride the bus to class because I had a panic attack the last time. I was angry that I couldn’t give my senior thesis presentation because I was worried about a panic attack. I was angry that I was worried and not living.

Being angry and sad and worried is exhausting.

I couldn’t tell you when things turned around. It’s funny how you can pin point all the sad moments in your life, but happiness is usually vague and undetectable. This post was never meant to be a how-to, more of a self-centered look at my own life, but I know it started to turn around. I moved back into my mom’s after graduating.I found a job, not a life changing career that fulfills me everyday, but it does help pay my student loans down and it keeps me in a routine. Routines keep me centered. When I am centered, it is easier to stay happy, normal. Find a routine. Be willing to break it at times. Know that you can always come back to it.

A lot of my anxiety stems from crowds and claustrophobia. This also led to a fear of public transportation. Avoid those triggers. Be vocal with friends. Work around it, and when you are ready, fight it. Find the strength to face it. You will be exhausted after. You might fail the first time or slip even when you are more seasoned. Sometimes the normalcy you are fighting for will feel like making a coin shine in a moonless night, but here is a little secret, normal is what you make normal.

Now back to the beginning to tie it all together. My grandpa was not theorizing that I had ownership of the moon, I don’t think I could afford the monthly payments and I assume it would get rather lonely, but that the reach of my life extends beyond my flesh, four walls, state, country, planet, and it travels past the moon and many other moons. I have not considered myself religious for a long time, but I believe there is something to everything we are doing. I take solace in this. I take comfort in this simple story that has created my own personal mythology.  I’ve learned to not pay attention to the coin. Look at the moon.Look at the stars. Look at the sun. They always come back. 

Rusty Fork III: The Tools

Rusty Fork III: The Tools

This will be the most visually stimulating post that I make in this series. I have mad respect for bookstagrammers who can actually take decent photos. Enjoy the harsh sunlight. I didn’t think about editing or adding filters to the photos until I wrote this sentence, and I am too lazy to go back now.
A) Neo 2 Alphasmart – deserves an explanation. Maybe one day I’ll do a post on it.
B) Laptop – self-explanatory
C) My Bible – this is where I plot and draft many of the scenes. The pages are scattered with quotes and descriptions that have not been used yet. I had a nightmare that someone broke into my car and stole it from me.
D) Sticky Notes
E) Pens and Highlighters
F) Progress Calendar – I stole this idea from VE Schwab. It’s an easy way to see what progress you’ve made and can be utilized in many different ways. Each stars represents something I have completed for the day: read for an hour, write/plan for an hour, and work out.
G) Plot Sticky Notes (different from regular sticky notes) – I’m a very tactile person and Scrivener wasn’t cutting it. I had a flash of genius a few weeks ago, and stuck up the basic plot points for the three main characters on my bedroom wall. It has helped tremendously.
H) Progress Stars – everybody loves a reward, even a sticker reward.
I) Plot Calendar – this plot calendar is much more detailed than the original plot hanging on my wall. The story takes place over three weeks, so this makes it easy to break down each character’s story day by day.
J) Candle – because it’s calming as shit.
K) Note cards
L) Books on writing – okay, sometimes books on writing can be cheesy as hell and very limiting, but you can always find a glimmer of inspiration from them. I have enjoyed the Write Great Fiction series shown above.
M) Kindle
N) Book with prompts – this book has become part of my nighttime routine. I pick one prompt and write a short paragraph from the perspective of a main character. It has helped A LOT at finding the voices.
O) Desk

Rusty Fork I: The Why

Rusty Fork II: Strength




Rusty Fork II: Strength

Rusty Fork II: Strength

Rusty Fork I

I’m roughly 5,500 words into a very rough draft. This is an idea that has been floating around for about a month. I’ve never had a story idea come so vividly and easily before, so I feel like this is a good sign. I’ve had ideas in the past. Many ideas. Usually my ideas start with a cinematic scene, more often than not it is a climatic scene. That one scene will play over and over in my head with different takes and actors and backgrounds, and I will start to formulate a story from there. Right out of college, I had one such idea. I will spare you the gory details, but it wasn’t good. I had another idea last year for a fantasy that I worked on extensively for about 6 months, but I hit a wall and was not able to recover. I still like it, but I have set it aside for now. I may pick it back up in a few more years when it has aged a bit because I loved the characters. The characters were the strength, not the setting. I need to find them a home that they are worthy of. Read more

Rusty Fork I: The Why

Rusty Fork I: The Why

I’m not going to regale you with a nauseating story about how I have always wanted to write. Okay, I will.

Storytelling has been my window to the world. It has taught me how to put emotions into words and pictures. I could lie and say reading was my first love, but really, movie theaters were my first love.

I have a complicated relationship with my father. There was a lot resentment and anger growing up, but there was, and has always been, love. My father is a man of few words, but his few words are booming and exact. I am a woman of few words, but mine are quiet and exact. This caused a lot of miscommunication and distance, physical and emotional, especially when I was a teenager. Our language and middle ground has always been movies. Instead of talking, you watch and listen,you collectively observe. The room is dark. The music swells. The plot takes you out of your own plot. Some people will find this form of escapism unhealthy, dodging the real issues, but in our own strange way, stories helped us to connect. I’ve seen my father cry more times in a movie theater than I’ve seen him cry outside of one. I’ve probably seen him cry more times than most children have seen their own fathers cry. When my father told me that he was divorcing my mother, it was on the way to see a movie. I like to think that connection we had with theaters gave him the strength to tell me the worst thing he has ever had to tell me. You would think that safe space would become sullied with such a horrible memory, but it became a thread that helped mend.

A story is vulnerable, and allowing yourself to connect with that vulnerability takes strength. Yes, most of the movies we see together have more guns than dialogue or have a 30 or lower percentage rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but they are our movies. And the our is the most important part.

Liz, why not be a scriptwriter? I think in another life I would have done this. I really do think there is another version of myself in an alternate universe who lives in LA and works on a CW show or something, but Hollywood scares me. There is so much room for failure and not a lot of people to help you up. Movies are almost religious to me, and I would be worried about my mental state when I became disillusioned (the me in this reality, not the other version of myself). Also, there are books.

I’ve spent a lot of time in this first post about writing a book talking about movies, but I thought it was important for you to see where I am coming from and where that could lead.

The scariest thing in the world is to tell someone, “I am writing” because there are a lot of implications and expectations attached. So here it goes,

I am writing.