All posts by Chelsea Gray

A Slight Shift in Focus

As I’ve been getting feedback on my thesis and writing away. I’ve been thinking about the purpose of my novel. I finally have an answer and thankfully it’s not too late.

The novel represents the education system and The Organization represents everything that we should have learned in schools that would have been useful life skills. Though, the highest ranking subjects are: fighting, hacking, poisons, weaponry, and linguistics. (This is what the novel will focus on.) Over the years, people felt it was more important to focus on those as they are more prevalant in society and students loved them more than anything else.

With that said, I do have to shift my research to look at the education system, standardized tests, amd rules and laws within the eduaction system.

The fun part will be dedicating this weekend to diving head first into the ocean of available research in hopes of finding valuable sources. (High hopes for a 48 hour period but I got this!) The not so fun part will be actually reading it over the next week and churning out a literature review.

The main goal for this week(end) is to get those sources, then the next goal is to read through and write a literature review. Last step is to write the novel, which I feel like may be the easiest but I’ve never written a novel and mt creativity isn’t very on demand – it comes when it wants, usually in the middle of the night.

An Update After A While

It feels like it’s been a month since the last update. In the past two weeks, I’ve been reading through my research and trying to figure out what would help most. I made a presentation to dive further into my thesis in progress. I finally know what I’ll be reading when I share a reading.

My next steps are to keep finding sources and writing more. I’m hoping that the research can also give me ideas to help the story more. I want the novel to be as realistic as possible but also it’s not going to be real enough that it could happen in real life.

The struggle is real

I’ll admit, I’m struggling. I never liked reading research, and so, in true Chelsea fashion, I didn’t start until yesterday. Plus, these weeks are going by too quickly and it’s starting to stress me out.

So, on to progress. I was able to skim through my sources and pull chapters that would likely be good, I was even able to rule one out. So, there is some progress and today, I’m going to lock myself in the library and dive in to all the research.

I have a presentation next week that I’ve at least been working on. I’m not too worried about the presentation or the semester in general, I have full confidence in myself that everything will get done. It’s just in the process of getting from start to finish, I take the longest, hardest way.

Starting today, I promise to get organized, get things done early and stick to my study plans better.

Not Much to Update On

I’m still looking for more sources. I haven’t gotten a chance to really look through them yet. Ideally, I’m going to use the 14-day challenge to help me with that. Yesterday was the first day and I was able to transcribe older notes into Bibisco.

The plan for today is to look through what I have and narrow down what I have. Once I have skimmed through summaries and abstracts, I’ll be able to print the ones I need and do a deeper read of them and start an annotated bibliography. That may also turn into creating scenes for my novel based on the research.

My main concern is tying the research into the fiction, I’ve never done that before and I don’t want it to ruin the novel. I am hoping that by writing scenes based on the research, it would flow easier into the novel. Also, I’m hoping that each source would equal one, maybe two scenes, that can be used to help build that foundation of the novel.

Research Updates!

I’m having fun researching. I don’t like having to find the sources themselves but when I do find that potential perfect source…*cue the confetti*

I get to use previous knowledge, like using an asterisk (*) after a core part of a word to get different variations of the word in your search results. I love that because it does open up different possible words that I can use and add to my search list.

And I get to add new knowledge like typing “AND kw:(…)” and fill in any word to an already searched phrase. With that, I’ve been easily able to add new words that I noticed as I was searching.

Over the next week, I’ll be looking through more search terms and skimming the sources on my laptop before printing them for a deeper read. I struggle to read on my laptop which is why I print everything.

So far, I only have 7 sources and I want to try to get to twenty with the hope that I will narrow it down to maybe 15. Which means I have to do a lot more research and a lot of reading.

Recapping the Last Two Weeks and A Look Foward to This Week

Over the past two weeks, I did nothing. But on Wednesday, I got a lot done. The plan for the next week is to do as much as I did today but on a semi-daily basis.

I need to start fleshing out chapters. I have the first 7 outlined and they need a bit more work but once that is done, I’ll be able to move on to the next step.

Creating some sentences for the chapters. My plan is to have some paragraphs of the chapters done. The order doesn’t matter as much right now. More so getting the content then organizing it later.

Lastly, I want to start working with different points of view. Just to see how I will shift chapters as the story unfolds. A few of the things happening in the novel happen to different people, so I want to see how I can recount the same thing but from two different perspectives.

The Next Two Weeks

For the next two weeks, my plan is to outline. I know I’m not going to get the entire novel outlined in these two weeks (it would be insane and cool if I did though, but not actually possible). But I will hopefully get an outline of an outline done in these two weeks.

Basically, I want to know what needs to be outlined versus what needs to be edited from what is already written. Today (or yesterday at this point), I came up with this very basic list of what needs to be done.

My crazy plan for a plan

For those that can’t read my handwriting (including future me), it says:

The plan for the next 2 weeks:

  • Outline chapters 4-7
  • Figure out 5-7
  • Write test pages for P.O.V.s
  • What is ch. 8?
  • Outline ch. 1-8
    • Or really prologue through 7 (*4-7 have nothing yet)
  • A lot is happening in ch. 1 – what can be moved?

This list is in reference to what I originally had planned in Bibisco. Chances are, I will keep this how it is, but now would be the time to make any changes I feel are necessary.

Next, I have different P.O.V.s planned. A random bystander gets the prologue. For this one, the bystander could be Anixa or another character, it could also just be a third-party observation. I’m not exactly sure just yet, but I will be soon.

Anixa will be the main-main character, most of the chapters will be told from her point of view, starting with chapter 1. Then it switches to Traxel, then back to Anixa for chapters 3-5. Then Traxel gets chapter 6 and Anixa gets chapters 7 and 8.

Random thought, since Anixa gets so many chapters, at least at the start, I may tweak them a bit so that the later ones (5, 7, & 8) would be told from the POV of a group member. We’ll see, the main focus is just outlining right now. I can decide on points of view later after I figure out what happens in each chapter.

This should be fun. Let’s see where my imagination decides to take me this time!

Welcome Back!

Since May, I have been relaxing, working, and writing. I picked up a Summer internship at a bookstore that wasn’t really a bookstore thanks to Hurricane Ida. I got to work on my photography though and got paid for it! I also worked at Kean, filing papers and writing whatever ideas came into my head. Then in June, I did the writer’s retreat and loved it!

Since then, I tried to hold myself accountable for working on my novel. It didn’t really work and that’s upsetting. But I’m learning from that failure. I realize that I need to change where I write. Thanks to my internship, I learned about this place called The Write Space. I have yet to try it out but I know exactly where it is and I’m putting money aside to go one day.

Next, I made a plan to just stay on campus all day every day just to write. Partially because The Organization was born there and I feel like it should be finished there too, but also because I get my inspiration and ideas from people and things I see.

So with that said, on to my thoughts about my thesis. (I kind of can’t believe I’m writing/saying that and how excited I am about this!)

Wow, Thesis Time Already

It feels like I just started and I’m already looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s because you did just start. You knew you weren’t going to be doing this forever. It wasn’t going to take you 6 years like you A.A. & B.A. did.

This is true. But I still don’t really want it to end. I mean I want it to end but not. Ya know?

Anyway, I woke up this morning feeling three ways about starting my M.A. Thesis.

My first mood because it feels like everything is happening so fast.
After a minute of quietly panicking I let myself feel excited because I am finally writing a novel and I will get it done and it’s exciting.
Last, I let myself imagine how I would feel when it’s all done. While I won’t actually push my laptop off a table, I will be feeling bittersweet.

Over the Summer I joined the writer’s retreat, which you can read all about by clicking “writer’s retreat.” And it was amazing. I began working on my thesis there and have since tried to work on it more afterward, but it didn’t work out that way.

Thankfully though, I did manage to get organized in a way that I know will help me in the long run and I know what I need to work on during the semester to get me to a finished novel by May.

A quick recap of my project:

  • The Organization is going to be a magical realism novel
  • It is based in New Jersey in a made-up town called Zorshall Creek (zore (like sore but with a z) sh – all)
  • The main characters are Anixa Nettle and Traxel Litespire, they will be the good vs. evil sides in the novel (along with their teams)
  • The main idea is doing bad for good reasons and how different perspectives change how people view them. i.e. robbing banks to fund the community or doing illegal things to catch fugitives.
  • I am still in the planning phase but have a few things written.
  • I’m using Bibisco to help me write this novel and it is going amazingly. (I did end up paying for it, but it is worth it!)

My hope for the semester is to have a fully fleshed-out outline where I can just pick a section and write it. And to have at least 8 chapters done. Ideally, that would be two chapters a month and I know I can do that. My main concern is time. During the retreat, we had close to 6 hours a day to focus on our writing and I got a lot done. So, I’m taking that knowledge and giving myself a rough estimate of how much I can expect to be done by December.

I’m really excited for this class, to see what we all produce. The ideas we’ll have. We are all writers and I can’t wait to read what we write!