I’m Obsessed with Writing the Perfect Novel

Have you ever felt this way?

This blog started out, and is sometimes still wrongfully categorized, as a creative writing blog. Its purpose in the beginning was to chronicle my life as an aspiring writer. And while I still use my experiences and passion to drive and inspire the content I create here, it’s definitely changed drastically to align with my status as a writer of all types of things — not just books.

So I’m assuming those of you who have been around for more than a year — if you’re still here — have been wondering why I don’t talk about my novel writing adventures as much as I used to.

Well, for one thing, this is no longer a blog in the more traditional sense — it’s not essentially a public diary about my life. I’m the voice you come to ‘listen’ to, but it’s about what I can do for you, not what I can say about myself. Mostly.

For another, I haven’t stopped writing about creative writing completely. It’s a type of writing I enjoy, after all. But I’ve scaled back significantly on those topics in the past year or so.

The truth is, I’m writing less about fiction because I’m writing less fiction. And the reason I’m writing less fiction is because I’m a perfectionist, and it’s absolutely ruining my noveling progress.

My brain is on a mission to write the perfect novel, even though no such thing exists.

There is no such thing as a perfect novel — especially not within the first draft of writing a book. I know that. But part of me can’t help but let my drafts’ imperfections slow me down.

It’s not that I spend all my writing time self-editing as I write. Quite the opposite, actually. Sometimes it feels almost as if I write knowing I’m not doing my best, just to get it over with. I find myself desperately wanting to finish writing another book, even though I dread having to go back and rewrite parts of it later that aren’t publishable.

And yet, how do we know certain things aren’t good enough the first time around? Sure, a novel needs at least a few rounds of revisions before queries. But I’m way too hard on myself — yet my awareness of that fact does not stop me from thinking, “I could be doing this so much better.”

Every bad round of dialogue, every weak plot point, every plot hole, every forced plot twist — it makes me not want to do this anymore. Rather, it makes me wish I could just stop trying to finish these fatally flawed books and start over.

I’m too stubborn to do that, of course. I want to finish what I started.

I’ve been reading more fiction than I’ve been writing, and each book seems to subconsciously teach me more about what I’m doing wrong in my own fiction. The unfinished novel I’m chipping away at now, I started writing in November 2015. At this point, I’m tired of it. I would have done so many things differently if I’d started writing it in 2017. I have about 10,000 words left before I can call the first draft ‘done,’ yet I can’t stand how imperfect it feels.

I already have so many new ideas for the book I want to start writing in November, to celebrate my last NaNoWriMo. I want to do an outline first. I want to do character sketches. I want to start with nothing and end with something I’m proud of. Yet I’m not sure if I can do that if I don’t finish these two previous novels first.

If that’s what I really want to do, I know I have to accept that they’re not going to be as good as I once hoped they would be. That’s not going to be easy. But I’ve learned so much in the past two years, and I can’t forget how important that is. I’m bored and anxious because, in many ways, I’ve moved on. I could start these stories over, try again. But I don’t want to.

Never let the idea that you have to write something perfectly the first time, or ever, keep you from finishing what you start. You’re learning, you’re growing, but you also deserve the satisfaction of accomplishing your goals. Are there instances when not finishing a book is completely acceptable? Of course. If you absolutely hate it, drop it; you won’t miss it. But don’t worry about doing everything right. Everyone has to write at least one terrible novel before they start to figure out how to write a better one next time.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Will This Be My Last NaNoWriMo?

I jumped on board my first NaNoWriMo in 2008, two days before it kicked off. It was easy then: I was 16. I literally had nothing better to do. Every year since then, it has gotten progressively harder. I don’t mind – I love a good challenge. But I’m definitely more behind on my word count at this point in the month than I ever have been in previous years.

Am I worried? Uhhhh….yeah. A little. I also wrote 13,000 words in 48 hours this past summer for some Wrimo reason, so pretty much anything is possible with so few days left.

It’s definitely been a struggle though. I’ve wondered several times so far, silently, if I could let myself call it quits after this year. I’ve had a blast … But unlike before, I’m busy in the kind of adult-y way that makes writing 50,000 words in 30 days not quite as appealing as it was 8 years ago.

I love writing, I love NaNo – I always will. But this is definitely the most challenged I have ever felt during an epic November word sprint. It’s a good thing, in some ways. A terrible thing in others.

Will this be my last NaNoWriMo? I don’t think so. I’m not giving up on this one yet, and if I do win, it will be my ninth victory – but more importantly, no matter what, it will be my ninth attempt. I’m not sure I could stop just one year shy of a nice, even 10.

After that, who knows. A lot can happen in a year. Who knows where I’ll be, what I’ll be doing, whether I’m still always quietly working on a book in the background or not. Never say never. If I’ve learned anything in the past 24 years, it’s that life has a way of taking you by surprise. I don’t say no. Let’s leave it at, “Let me get through the next week of insanity and update you on how I feel.”

Shop. Watch. Write. Whatever it is you’re doing today, do it with a smile. You deserve it.

3 Mistakes New Writers Make (and How to Avoid Them In the Future) | PROBLOGGER WRITING CHALLENGE


Every writer makes mistakes, which is all part of the process. Here are a few common mistakes new writers make, and “fixes” for them in the future.

The Mistake: Treating dialogue like prose

One of the hardest things to figure out how to do when you’re first getting into writing is transitioning back-and-forth between writing dialogue and writing prose. They are two very different styles of writing that somehow have to flow smoothly from one to the other and back again, and often, a narrator’s inner voice and the words she speaks blend together a little too much, unintentionally.

She is going to go to the store tomorrow and “You gonna go to the store later” are two completely different sentences. We do not talk the way we write (at least, we train ourselves not to the more we practice). But we do have to write dialogue the way we typically speak it, which can be challenging if we’re not used to writing that way.

The Fix: While it might sound a little extreme, you’ll need a friend or family member for this one. Take a string of dialogue and have you and another person speak it out loud back and forth to each other. Record it using your phone or computer. Play it back. Does it sound real? If not, take some time to watch an episode of your favorite show or listen to a few minutes of a podcast. Or just people-watch for awhile. Study how real dialogue sounds, go back to your story and try your best to replicate it. And repeat.

Check out our tips for writing realistic dialogue.

The Mistake: Basing a story too closely off your personal life

It probably happens to every newer writer, so don’t feel embarrassed if it has happened or is currently happening to you. Things happen to us and we want to turn those life-changing events into fictional accounts. Great for practicing storytelling, we suppose, but if you’re trying to get serious about publishing a piece of fiction, you might want to reconsider.

In reality, no matter how dramatic our real lives might seem, they will never be as thrilling and suspenseful as the fiction we read and watch in books and on television. Our stories are, well, boring. Unless you’re writing a memoir for a good reason, basing a piece of fiction on your personal life is not the smartest way to go.

The Fix: Draw inspiration from key events and memories in your life and the lives of those around you. Use these emotions and ideas as foundations from which you can build new stories you have never experienced firsthand before.

The Mistake: Going with the “safe” ending

At times writing a novel almost feels like a ‘choose your own adventure’ sequence IRL. Do you go with the ending you want to write, or the ending your readers will be more satisfied with? Do you choose the riskier option or take the safe route? How do you even choose at all?

The problem with choosing the “safe” ending, which many new novelists do, is that you ultimately end up throwing away an opportunity to write something unique and unexpected. Remember in Stranger Than Fiction, when the author has to choose between killing off her main character and keeping him alive? She has a choice between killing him and writing a “great book” and letting him live … and, well, not.

The Fix: Your first instinct is often times the right one. Second-guessing yourself does happen. But it’s the endings we feel are too dark, too dramatic, too unexpected, too upsetting, that often end up being the ending that turns a good book into a great one. Go with your gut. Don’t worry about what your audience will think (yet).

Being new at anything is tough. Keep practicing. If you’re in this for the long haul, you’ll be able to learn and grow over time. Being aware and learning from these kinds of mistakes is just the beginning.

Image courtesy o Novelty Revisions.

How to Avoid the 30,000-Word Slump | NaNo Talk 2015


Those participating in NaNoWriMo this month will hit 30,000 words this week, which is great! Unless you’re like a lot of us, and find yourself stuck in a creativity ditch as soon as you approach this landmark.

If this does happen to you, or has happened before, you are not the only one. Here at Novelty Revisions we call this “the 30,000-word slump.” Hitting this mark means you’ve made a lot of progress on your novel up to this point, but you’re starting to struggle. It’s both physically and mentally exhausting, and possible, yet difficult, to get through.

Here’s how to handle it.

First, what is it?

The 30,000-word slump happens just when you’ve launched yourself over the halfway mark during a WriMo (Writing Month). Up to this point you’ve probably been fairly confident you can definitely write 50,000 words in 30 days, even if you haven’t quite hit the halfway point yet. Somewhere between 27,000 and 33,000 words, it’s like you’ve hit a roadblock. Inspiration had vanished, and anything you do write feels forced and unusable.

It’s not a fun time, and if you’re going through it or can feel yourself approaching it, do not worry. You are not alone!

Why does it happen?

You’ve made it through 30,000 words, which is technically more than halfway. Yet somehow those last 20,000 words start to seem impossible. You’ve most likely written all the beginning parts of your story you had stored in your head the entire month of October. You think you know how you want to end it, but you’re not ready or willing to skip ahead.

This is basically your brain just having a necessary meltdown. It’s normal (hopefully), and if you’ve made it this far in your novel anyway, you’re going to make it all the way. Just don’t stop!

How to avoid falling deeper into the slump

  • Take it slow. Write a little, stand up, go do something else and come back a little later. Break your daily word count into smaller pieces: 200 words at a time, 500, 50, whatever is going to get you through it. If you’re feeling a little burned out, sitting in the same spot for an hour or two trying to focus on one difficult task isn’t going to be easy. Do what you can in a short sprint and let yourself rest for a little while.
  • Spend a little time plotting. If you’re feeling stuck and just can’t get words out, spend a little time planning out what you want to happen next. This could end up being a productive outlining session or you might walk away feeling more frustrated and discouraged, but what’s important is that you’re still making an effort to think about your novel even if you’re not ready to work on it right now.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you fall behind. It’s best to plan ahead and give yourself a little buffer by writing a day or two ahead of schedule for times like these. But if you haven’t been able to do that, don’t stress. Write a little at a time, even if that means falling behind a day or two. The nice thing about this word count slump is that, as long as you keep making progress, you will come out of it, and that final stretch to 50,000 will absolutely fly by.

Don’t get discouraged! Lean on your writing buddies and regional partners/MLs to help you get through it or, if you’re lucky, avoid it altogether. You are NEVER alone in NaNoLand. Even if it doesn’t happen to you every time, it has probably happened to each one of us at least once. Pace yourself and be patient. This, too, shall pass.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

NaNoWriMo 2015: So THAT’S Why Writing That Book Took So Long . . .


When I first started writing my previous book (different than the one I’m working on during NaNoWriMo this year), I knew I wanted it to be different. I needed a challenge, which meant I needed to coax myself out of my writing comfort zone and try something new.

So I ended up spending three-and-a-half years writing a YA sci-fi/thriller, the first in an intended series of five books that told the story of five completely ordinary people who end up being recruited to become the leaders of a movement to bring equality to a divided subset of territories.

It’s a lot more complicated than that. But that’s the gist of the first book (sort of).

I do not write sci-fi and I especially do not write in futuristic settings. So while I really enjoyed writing a different kind of story, I really struggled. Sometimes, though I didn’t want to admit it, I wasn’t even really enjoying it. And it took me until now, starting a new book, sprinting back to my contemporary YA roots, to figure out why.

Here are a short excerpt from Premier, the book I just finished last month.

Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 11.57.52 AM

In contrast, here are an excerpt from For Alexander Grace, my current writing project.

Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 11.54.51 AM

Both are very rough drafts still, so take that into consideration before you read on.

Both these scenes have a few things in common, mainly dialogue being the driver of the action, but at least from my point of you, the similarities basically end there. There are first-person narrators in both, but they are two very different people.

The first example, to me, is rushed and dry. Now that could be because I’ve read it at least a hundred times over and it’s taken kind of out of context. I never got the chance to dive as deeply into Lyssa’s character as I wanted to, so she remains a mystery to me even now.

This is not the case with the second example. I know all these characters’ secrets and back stories. I know that Lacey is just putting up a front even though she still loves Derek, I know Derek still loves Lacey but isn’t going to stand for her shenanigans anymore. I know how the narrator really feels about both of her friends and would rather give them both up than have to choose one over the other.

But the biggest difference of all between these two scenes is the voice. My voice.

They say you don’t know your true “writer’s voice” until you start zoning out in the middle of writing something, go back and read what you wrote while you weren’t paying attention. That’s what happens to me a lot as I’m working through (oops, can’t use that acronym) Alexander Grace. That is my voice. That is not just where I am most comfortable, but where I can actually write the best way I can write. Maybe not the best ever written, but my best.

So I’ve solved the mystery. I spent three-and-a-half years not really writing in my own voice. I felt so lost and so out of place not because I can’t write a sci-fi/thriller, but because I wasn’t letting myself tell the story using the voice I should have been using.

I don’t know if, by looking at those two examples, you can tell the difference. But I can, and I’m ecstatic. It means I’m finally back where I belong, and it’s not going to be quite as much of a struggle (though still challenging) to write this book.

And more importantly, it’s not going to take nearly as long to finish this one.

Which means query letters will actually go out at some point, which means maybe, someday, you’ll actually get to read the whole thing.

No promises. But this project is much more promising than the last one, at least.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

I FINISHED MY NOVEL! Here’s what I’ve learned.


In May 2012, I did something many of you probably have before.

I started writing a book.

And yesterday, October 23, 2015, I did something fewer, but still probably many of you have done also.

I finished writing a book.

The most meaningful thing I’ve gathered so far – after less than 12 hours of time to reflect – is that I actually managed to learn something through this long, at times unbearable experience. A few things, actually. Things I want to share with you today, because I don’t just want to sit here bragging about what I’ve accomplished. As always, I want to pass on what I’ve learned to you, my fellow aspiring writers.

So, now that I can finally say I’M DONE! … here’s what I know for sure.

Striving for perfection is a waste of time.

This was a tough thing to learn for me, the Type A, obsessive perfectionist. I wish everything could be the best it could possibly be the first time I write it. I wish all the characters always said the right things. I wish all the pieces always fit together and that I felt confident about every single sentence in that stupid book.

But that’s not how it works. Even just in the last month I’ve realized, again, that there isn’t time to keep going back and fix things. That’s not what the first draft is for. The first draft is for getting the story out. Figuring out the sequence of key events. Defining your themes and developing your characters.

It’s not going to be perfect the first time. Nothing ever is. If it were, writing a novel would be a completely different process. Honestly, it probably wouldn’t be as self-rewarding as it actually is.

The first draft is not the final product, but it’s still finished. 

When you hit the save button that last time, sit back and stare for awhile at this giant word-filled thing you’ve produced, there’s a certain feeling that settles over you. As happy as you are to have hit a huge novel-writing milestone, the moment still lacks closure. As if, even though you’ve finished, the journey is still far from over.

That’s because it is. Don’t get me wrong here: finishing the first draft of a full-length novel is an amazing accomplishment and you SHOULD be proud of yourself. But that first draft is still flawed. If and when you go back to it later, you will find plot holes, inconsistent character traits and, of course, so many embarrassing spelling and grammar errors you’ll want to scream.

You’re not done yet. But for now, you’ve at least done the hardest part of all. It’s all out on paper, somewhat organized, there for you to tear apart and put back together. Someday, when you’re ready. 

By the time you finish, you’ll have convinced yourself you never want to look at it again.

Never, never ever never. This morning I woke up and my first thought was, “Wow. I don’t think I ever even want to think about that stupid book again.” This is normal and it’s happened to me a few times before when I’ve finished writing projects like this in the past. It doesn’t help that I wrote almost 9,000 words yesterday to reach my finish line. I am burnt out, and that is okay.

It’s okay because I don’t have another deadline. I don’t have to look at it again right away, and I don’t plan to. By the time you reach the end of any project, really, you’re pretty much over it. Done. Bye Felicia. It has taken over your life, and you’re ready to take your life back.

Give yourself time. Distance yourself from it, not just to rest your mind, but to give yourself space. You don’t need to tend to it every hour on the hour anymore. (Here comes the parenting analogy again. Sorry.) It’s a toddler. A little older, maybe. It can play by itself for awhile without you. Let it. Get something else done while you can. Eventually, you’ll want to go back to it. And you will, and you’ll be refreshed and ready to start editing.

Thank you to all my followers who have put up with me over the past three and a half years. I promise, we’re returning to our normal posting schedule this upcoming week (fewer blog posts, more articles) and I won’t have too many more personal novel updates for you.

At least until November 1.

Want to read more about what you’ll experience writing your first draft? Here are a few more words of wisdom from yours truly.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

We Can’t Keep Writing the Same Stories Forever (Midweek Novel Update #22)


Something happens when you spend too much time fixated on one story.

Or, rather, something DOESN’T happen: growth.

The ever-fabulous Mur Lafferty brought this to my attention during yesterday’s ISBW podcast (because there’s always someone around to hit you over the head with a figurative baseball bat when you need it most). If we spend all our time and energy only ever buried in one story, that story is going to bury us DEAD. Basically. Figuratively.

Even before hearing these words of wisdom, I was already planning on starting a new project this November. Without realizing it until recently, I’ve managed to work on the same story for the past four WriMos (July Novel Writing Month 2014—RIP—, NaNoWriMo 2014, and the past two Camp NaNoWriMos.

It hasn’t always been the exact same story all the way through; it’s changed a lot over the past three years. But a lot of the characters have made it through most of the revisions, and honestly, it’s time to put them to bed for awhile. Not forever, because there will be four more books in the series. But for now.

Which is why I am doing everything I possibly can to finish the book before this Sunday, so I can have a week “off” before NaNo starts.

I’ve been going on for over a month now about how close I am to finishing, and I still haven’t. I know that probably makes me sound, I don’t know, unreliable in my predictions. But the problem is, not only am I not “working toward” a specific word count: currently, I’m writing backwards.

I don’t usually write chronologically, you see. I pretty much knew how the last third of my book was going to go (with the exception of a cliffhanger ending I actually did not originally plan, which is amazing). So I ended up writing the majority of that first. And honestly, when I was really struggling to get words in a few months ago, I skipped a lot of the more “challenging” scenes.

So I’m working my way back to them, filling in the gaps, and by the end of the week, I’ll finally be done.

I tell you this now, of course, so I have more excuses to actually sit down and finish than I do not to.

I’m not sick of the story or ready to say goodbye to the characters. I’m also not planning four more books for the fun of it. Some stories are too big to tell in one volume, and that’s the case here. But what I am ready to do is write something new. Work on all these story ideas I’ve had to brush off because “I’m still working on this one.”

It’s been over three years, and while I’ve written a lot of other things on the side, I’ve stuck with this. I’ve brought it to what it has become, a real story that I can be proud of. But I am itching to move on, to grow as a writer, to challenge myself. That’s why it’s taken so long to get to this point. It’s a challenge, but not the right kind. It’s fun, but it’s too comfortable now.

I am telling a story I hope you’ll get to read someday. About ordinary people who take their first steps toward becoming extraordinary because they needed to challenge themselves and grow up. The book itself is like a mirror of the process I’ve gone through to write it.

I’m a very optimistic, yet honest person. I would love for it to make it all the way. But it’s not a guarantee. There are a lot of writers out there who all want the same thing. I’m not doing it because I want to “get published.” I’m doing it because, if there’s a story waiting to be told, and no one ever tells it—what happens to it? Does it just … fade away?

I think stories deserve a better outcome than that, don’t you?

It has been a long, twisted road. But I can see it coming to an end. It’s right there. After all this work, after all this time, I’ll finally be able to stop rambling on about how I’m not done yet.

Don’t worry, though. When I’m done, you’ll know.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to Stay Healthy During NaNoWriMo


For those participating in National Novel Writing Month, November is all about writing. It has to be, if participants have any hope of making it to 50,000 words before the month ends.

All that focus on staring at a screen and typing away can unintentionally block a lot of our healthy habits, and the last thing you want while you’re trying to write a novel is to get sick and/or totally burn yourself out.

Here’s how to stay healthy—and write a lot—this November. 

Take breaks—a lot of breaks

The good news? NaNo gives you the chance to write a lot, probably a lot more than you normally would in a 30-day time span. You finally have an excuse to write! The bad news? You’ll end up burning yourself out pretty quickly if you’re not careful. Taking a lot of breaks—more than you think you need to—is your best bet this November. Give your brain a chance to rest from overuse.

Don’t combine food and noveling 

Do you snack—or even worse, eat full meals—while you try to get some writing done throughout the day? Try not to do that. It’s likely you won’t be munching on anything all that healthy, and while your brain can surely benefit from a carb-induced energy boost, eating a lot without even realizing you’re doing it isn’t going to make you feel very well, and we all know how hard it is to write a few thousand words when we don’t feel well. 

Figure out your most effective idea-generating activity

It’s when we step away from our screens that ideas seem to come to us more easily. Your brain “rushes” ideas—and you comprehend them—because you’re not distracted by something else in front of you. While you’re taking a break, go for a walk. Work out, if you want to. Do something productive while you’re letting your brain generate more ideas for your story.

For the love of God, just sleep a lot

A WriMo does not automatically equal sleep deprivation. Yes, you’ll have a lot going on, on top of having to write 1,667 words a day and whatever. It’s not going to get any better if you try to sleep less on purpose. Eventually you will hit that wall of non-productivity and nothing, not coffee, not even your characters, will be able to keep you awake.

You’ll be much more productive over the course of the month if you let yourself rest and treat yourself well. It’s hard, writing a novel. We know. It may not seem like you have time to stop and rest, eat, walk, sleep, all the things you might normally do to relax. But it is possible. You can do it. Your brain and your body will thank you, and by the end of November, you’ll have 50,000 words behind you and enough energy to keep writing even after NaNo ends.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Perfectio Pertinaciae (Novel Excerpt)



Greetings, Noveltiers! I’m putting in a few extra writing hours today so I can finish my book before November. Here’s an excerpt, my favorite chapter so far – enjoy!


“Dad?” I poked my head into the study. “Have you seen my Elite jacket?”

He did not look up from his book. “Kitchen chair.”

I strode into the kitchen and found the jacket, pressed, smooth.

I poked my head back in. “Did you iron this?”

He still did not look up. “I figured you’d be pressed for time.”

“Oh.” I looked down at the jacket over my arm, the pink embroidered along the edges of the sleeves and the collar and the Elite symbol on the left breast pocket. “Um. Thanks.”

He did not look up.

“Did you, uh … did you want to come? To the ceremony?”

He turned a page. “I’m sorry, Lia,” he said, the same way he’d said it a thousand times before, still not meaning it.

The Premier convention center was never empty, or that’s what was easiest to believe, at least. It was rare for Academy functions to take place outside of official academic hours, but because this annual ceremony required the presence of not only professors and academics, but former graduates and family support as well, school administration had no choice but to hold the ceremony on a Friday evening.

I preferred weaving through large crowds over one-on-one dialogue, so the moment I ascended the convention center’s outer steps and flowed into the front hall with other patrons, I felt the tension in my shoulders dissolve.

“Patron?” One of the guards at the door asked.

“Inductee,” I answered.

“Pin?” I lifted the collar of my jacket so he could see it. “I’ll need to keep that.”

I unclipped the pin and handed it to him, wordlessly.

“Proceed,” he said, and I obeyed.

The crowd only grew thicker as I made my way further into the hall. It was a miracle I found Clarice, or, rather, that she found me.

She looked better with pink accents than I probably did.

“There are so many old people here,” she commented, looking around.

I frowned. “You mean alumni?”

“Same thing.”

“I’ll take your jackets,” one of our student advisors said as she approached us, holding out a hand to each of us. Reluctantly, I handed over my jacket, and she slipped away without saying another word to either of us.

“Hey, I gotta go find my brother,” Clarice said. “So … see you up there.”

Suddenly I found myself standing completely alone, despite the crowd of people around me. Looking around, I spied all sorts of faces I recognized, but I never met their wandering eyes. Hanna and Aron walked in, arm in arm. Richard and Troin walked in together, then went their separate ways to mingle with their respective cohorts.

I didn’t realize who I was looking for until I’d confirmed, at least for the time being, he wasn’t anywhere in the hall.

“Hey Lucas,” I said as he approached me, nodding. He was just a little taller than me; I was tall compared to many of our classmates, and he probably hadn’t even finished growing yet, I guessed. Before I could strike up more conversation, he held a slightly wilted ranunculus flower, pink to match the accents on my jacket, which I no longer had.

“Thanks,” I said, looking around, watching other Elites give penders the same flower. Guys gave to girls; girls gave to guys; guys gave to guys and girls gave to girls. It was supposed to be a symbol of unity and invitation. “Really. Thanks. I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“Let’s go, inductees,” Headmistress Galloway said as she weaved through the group. Passing Lucas and I, she touched my arm. “Ready?”

I wasn’t. But she didn’t need to know that. Even though she probably already did without me having to point it out to her.

We sat in a line, a perfectly straight row of chairs across the stage. The lights were dimmed enough so we could not be seen easily from the audience, from which hundreds of conversations still floated toward our buzzing figures. We were all dressed black on bottom, grey on top, just as instructed, though the styles of our tops were allowed to vary.

As soon as the lights brightened we would look to spectators as one body of exceptional people, all alike, with small slivers of differences to remind them we all had something different to contribute to our world.

The beginning of the ceremony came too soon. Just before the lights over the audience dimmed and those over our heads came to life, I tried searching the audience one more time, just in case my father had changed his mind and decided to come after all.

The headmistress’s voice, amplified, interrupted my final scope of the crowd.

“Welcome all,” she said, her words echoing. “We are so grateful you could make it out tonight. We have a worthwhile endeavor planned for you. First allow me to welcome the head of our Elite Alumni association, Professor Ronn Antigua.”

I found it difficult to pay attention to the stream of speeches that followed. When I wasn’t scouting out the audience and the auditorium entrances, I was watching Clarice. Her ability and apparent willingness to give uninterrupted attention to the speakers pacing back and forth across the stage was impressive. It was like she closed off the rest of her mind and narrowed her focus to fit only that one auditory cue at one time.

“Thank you, doctor,” Headmistress Galloway said suddenly, tearing me away from the daydream I had accidentally fallen prey to at some point during Dr. Flynn’s speech. “Would our current Elites please stand.”

They sat in a row of chairs in front of the stage. They were supposed to face the audience first, then turn around and face Headmistress Galloway. There seemed to be a lot fewer of them than I had originally thought.

For some reason my gaze fell onto Hanna, who stood in perfect sync with the rest of her fellow Elites. Her half smile, so rehearsed and generic, gave her the exact look I knew she wanted to portray in that moment: poised; professional; powerful.

“Allow me to introduce our newly elected student liaison, Ms. Hanna Bracket.”

She acted as though she had not expected to be called to the center of the stage. She slipped past those in her line of motion and climbed the steps up to stage level with an eagerness I hardly remembered her possessing previously. She took the microphone from the headmistress, thanked her, and faced her audience with so much confidence it made me want to throw something.

“Fellow Elites. Faculty. Parents. Friends.” There was an eerie calmness coating her words. “We gather together this evening to recognize the academics that have earned their place among the most accomplished chapter of the Elite Society. Those who have gone above and beyond the core requirements mandated by the region’s department of learning. Thos who have proven they belong among the greatest of the great.”

Unlike the previous speeches, I hung onto every word my former best friend spoke. Unlike everyone else in the room, except maybe Aron, I knew she had practiced her speech forty times or more before the moment she had to give it. She was the highest epitome of perfectionism. I also knew she probably hadn’t been the one to write the words she now spoke.

It went on. And on. And on.

“Tonight we, as one unified body of Academic Elites, old and new, will make the same vow many of you made when you were first inducted into our circle: to achieve the highest possible level of selfless wisdom and intellectual advancement. Through hard work and dedication, we will all achieve greatness. Say it with me: perfectio pertinaciae. ‘Perfection through determination.’ Thank you.”

Have you ever noticed how different applause sounds depending on who it’s for? When it’s for you, it seems soft. It washes over you, and you just breathe it in like air. When it’s for someone else, it’s deafening.

Headmisstress Galloway took Hanna’s place in front of the microphone.

“It is tradition,” the headmistress said, smiling politely, “that each inductee be formally presented with his or her jacket by a previously selected alumni member of the society. Parents, instructors, mentors, career coordinators have joined us on stage tonight to honor and welcome the newest members of the Elite. Friends, colleagues, please stand.”

Everyone in the audience stood. So did we, on the stage, in our perfectly formed line. Many figures came forward, toward the stage, the friends, family, mentors who had taken the time out of their busy lives to come and welcome the newest of the Academic Elites into their group. One by one they climbed the steps in front of the stage and stood beside their companions.

I stood alone.

Headmistress’s secretary appeared beside me, holding my jacket, smiling like she was honored to present it to me. She didn’t even know me.

“When I call your designated inductee’s name,” Headmistress Galloway instructed, “you will bestow upon them their respective jackets. Wearing these jackets is an honor and a privilege,” she said to us. “Treat them well. Wallace Avery Young.”

She called off our names in reverse alphabetical order.

“Thomas Chang Valentine. Leanne Felicia Shaw.”

Every time she called a name, someone else got a jacket.

My palms were sweating.

After a few more names, and a few more jackets slipped onto shoulders, Headmistress Galloway handed the microphone off to her secretary, now standing beside her, and crossed the stage, holding the jacket from her secretary and moving to stand behind me.

“You don’t have to …” I tried turning my head without moving the rest of me.

“Who else would?”

“Clarice Arielle Odyssey,” said the temporary MC, and her brother helped her into her jacket next to me, both of them smiling. “Ollia Eleanor Mandel.”

I stretched out my arms, and Headmistress fitted the jacket over me without hesitation. It fit perfectly, better than I had expected it to. It was warm, somehow, and sent chills from my head down to my toes.

It was finally happening. I was finally getting what I wanted.

The rest of the names were called, the rest of the jackets presented. We all stood as perfectly still as we could, but it wasn’t easy. We were itching to step down from the spotlight by the time Headmistress Galloway returned to the far end of the stage and took the microphone back. It was hard to soak in all the extra attention when we had been taught to live and breathe as equals.

“On behalf of the Elite Society of Exceptional Scholars, and the Premier Academy of Academic Excellence and Professional Development, we welcome you. May your lives be forever filled with knowledge, and may you gain wisdom that far surpasses mine.”

Applause, hundreds upon hundreds of hands rewarding us for a job well done. It was almost too much to take in all at once. But we did. Secretly, we had all dreamed of this day. Every single one of us. And it was already almost over.

“Hold your chins up high, Elites,” Headmistress Galloway said, just loud enough for only us to hear. “Your futures are out there waiting for you.”


Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

[DISCUSSION] How Can I Help You Write Better?


For the first time EVER, you’re going to get a little background about how Novelty Revisions became Novelty Revisions. Trust me, it’ll all make sense in a minute.

When I was a junior in high school, it seemed like everyone had their own blog. I wanted to be a writer, and didn’t really have an outlet for anyone to read the things I wrote unless I asked specific people (or begged, pretty much, I didn’t know any better then).

So in January 2009, I started a blog on WordPress called … wait for it … Writer’s Blog. OMG SO ORIGINAL GUYSSSS. It was a lot of weird stuff, I mean, I was your typical weird (in a good way?) 16-year-old Nerdfighter. Highlights included Sonic the Hedgehog ramblings and jokes about polygamy. Don’t ask.

Eventually, I’m not quite sure when, Writer’s Blog turned into Heartfelt. I think the point was to convey how I wanted to share words straight from my heart, or something like that. There were a few emotional posts, probably really personal stuff no one should ever post on the Internet. Let’s pretend it never happened.

At some point while I was in college, Heartfelt turned into Tales of a College Novelist. Some of you probably jumped on board at this point, which is when this really started to transform from a personal blog about my life to a content “hub” meant to help writers, I guess, write better. We got a Facebook page. We had a nice, very pink site redesign. I paid for a .com domain. Everything was great.

Except it wasn’t, because by the time I bought my domain, I wasn’t in college anymore, and it didn’t really fit my style anymore. I stuck with it for awhile longer, but toward the beginning of this year, I decided TCN needed to grow up a little. The pink smileys were getting a little old.

So while I was working full-time and wasn’t in graduate school yet, I spent my evenings creating what you now know as Novelty Revisions, which I designed to help writers, quite simply, learn how to put their ideas into words.

“Novelty” is a play on words: “novelty” means original, as in creating original content, but it also has the word “novel” in it, which is why it’s written Novel[ty] in our logo. Novel as in story or novel as in innovative—get it? We want to help you take your ideas and put them down on paper, but we want to help you carry them through the revisions process, too. In case you wondered where Novelty Revisions came from.

Anyway, it took me a little too long to figure out what I wanted this to be. I’ve finally figured it out. Well, mostly. See, I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an expert. I get a lot of my ideas for posts from my own experiences as a writer, which is great and all, but I’ve been struggling lately. Not to come up with ideas, but to come up with ideas that will actually help our readers, which is the whole point of doing this in the first place.

Honestly? I don’t always know what you guys need or want to know. I don’t always know what you struggle with or what you’ve already learned. Which is why I started discussion-oriented posts in the first place. I think they’re more personal. I’m doing this for you. You’re the reason I make it a point to post every day. I’m here for you. I mean it!

So it’s the end of September now. I’m going to keep our LET’S GET PUBLISHED series going for a little while longer, and then we’re going to move into prepping for NaNoWriMo—which is going to be interesting, since I’ll be serving as an ML for the first time this year, and I don’t want to neglect all of you just because I have a region of writers to mentor. YIKES. Exciting, but terrifying. I don’t want to just throw content at you for the sake of having something new to post.

Here’s my question for you today: how can I help you write better?

From the idea-organization stage to the revisions stage of writing “stuff”—I want to be able to help you. But I’m not always sure how.

Would a weekly e-newsletter help? Did you know we already have one? You can sign up here!

Would more “how I do it” posts help? I don’t want to make this all about me, but does it help when I explain strategies from my own perspective?

I don’t know! If you have suggestions, comments, concerns, leave a comment. I’m open to feedback. I just feel like I’m not being particularly helpful, and that’s not good for any of us.

This site has come a long way since 2009. I’m proud of that. But for the first five or so years, I didn’t really have an audience in mind. Now I do. I don’t want to forget that.

I’m looking forward to what you have to say. You can be honest. I don’t take constructive criticism personally. I mean, unless you tell me I publish with too many typos. That hurts.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.