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2011 Writing Goals & (sigh) Schedule (Part 1)

15 Jan

“A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. ”
~Annie Dillard

This series of posts probably should have happened about oh….14 days ago…. but I’ve been really giving it some careful consideration before committing to this.

Goals:

First of all the big rocks…

1) My main goal is to have my novel ready to send out by the year’s end.

Since January is halfway gone, that gives me 11 months to:

a) Finish the second (half?) of the first draft.
b) Edit, edit, edit, critique, edit, critique, repeat as necessary.  I’d like to have 6-9 months for this portion of the process.
c) I also need to start somewhere near the end point preparing my query, researching agents and narrowing it down to my top choices.

Considerations: Possible travel during which I can pretty much guarantee no work will get done.  NaNo again this November. Work. School.

I’m currently  sitting at around 55,000 words on the rough draft.  I’ve backtracked from NaNo and started to try to work out some plot problems before I move forward and as a result I’ve lost that momentum.  And, I have to admit, just as much, the confidence that came from sitting down and pumping out 2000 words most days.  I’m feeling like the whole thing is a mess right now and I don’t know where I’m going with it, but I think for now, it’s just something I need to write through.

I expect (and want) the editing process to be long and detailed.  Yes, I’m a perfectionist.  But, I also just think it’s sound advice for new novelists.  I absolutely loved this post by fellow Phoenician and YA novelist Aprilynne Pike.  Every word of it.  Including the part about giving it everything you can for 6 months, sending it out, and moving on.  I certainly have plenty of other stories to write.  And yes, spending a year on a project and not having it sell may sound like a hard pill to swallow, but spending a lifetime half-way committed to something and never succeeded is a much bigger problem.  And like I’ve said before, this is my novel-writing school.  As much as I love this story and these characters, I can’t allow sentimentality to something that doesn’t even exist become my guiding force here.  I would love for it to sell of course, but I don’t expect it.  I’ll still be thrilled for the experience of having completed the entire process and what I’ve learned from it that simply can’t be taught in a book or even a classroom.

Be on the lookout for wise insights from me this time next year.  As of now, I’m mostly nervous and anxious to get things underway. And confused. There’s plenty o’ confused running round in my head about now.

So rounding things off to 8 months of editing….that gives me 3  months tops to finish this rough draft.  So perfectly doable.  IF I stick to a schedule. Which has not happened thus far for the singular reason that I’ve failed to make one.  Or refused to, more precisely.  I suppose it’s because then I have something else to be accountable to myself for.  And I happen to know that Myself can be harsh and unforgiving in the accountability department. Let’s just say it’s a touchy subject for me and my natural tendency is to avoid responsibility so that there’s no chance of messing up and letting anyone down.

I’m learning how to push through that, but ya know that little devil in the cartoons that sits on your shoulder telling you all the reasons why you should join the dark side? Well mine is named Mac, he’s round and obnoxious (and quite frankly could use a shower and a shave), and at this moment he’s shouting things like: “Seriously, all you are going to do is set yourself up for failure, you really think you need another failure now?” and “Come on.  A schedule? You.”  He then falls off my shoulder in a fit of cruel laughter which doesn’t stop even when he hits his head on the tile floor.  You get the picture.

Unfortunately the lack of schedule hasn’t worked out for me so well thus far, so we are going to give it a try.  With a twist.  Prizes, punishments, competitions and shameful dares all come into play.  Wanna know more and maybe even play along?  Ahh lads and lassies, of course you do…. tune in tomorrow for Part 2  and all the gory thrilling details.

Over on Aurelia…

5 Jan

Tony Bayliss Author of Past Continuous

I caught up with Author Tony Bayliss, and chatted with him about Orwell, playing football for England, and the personal journey of writing his newest book.

Here’s a sampling:

Your latest book, Past Continuous was recently published by Sparkling Books. Congratulations. Can you tell us a little about it?

Past Continuous starts with the death of the hero, an unpromising start to any story, but then takes us back to find out why he died. Nothing is quite as it seems, and soon the reader is left to wonder how, if he is dead, he can be communicating with the living. The person charged with finding out the truth is a girl who never met him in life, but who feels instinctively that she loves this man. She doesn’t know he is dead, and thinks he is lying in a coma, communicating telepathically. Her determination to find him, and to find the truth, is what drives the story on to its unexpected conclusion. I like happy endings.

Read the full interview here: Author Interview: Tony Bayliss Talks Past Continuous « Aurelia..

Graveyard Book Review

9 Dec

My review of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is up at Aurelia (and Goodreads, and Librarything).

 

A sampling:

I have to admit, I was a little iffy with the first couple pages, thinking this was going to be straight-out horror story all the way through, but then it took a lovely shift into fanciful and it quickly became one I couldn’t put down.  If I was forced to draw one comparison between Gaiman’s other works, it would be that he seems to me to be at his best when he writes for a younger audience. He gives himself more room to play, and his sense of whimsy is fully-developed.

Check out the full review here:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

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