Cheers for another solid writing week: four book reviews, two fiction-writing sessions, two lessons in the Stiefvater class, and a brief brainstorming session on the revision of Chasing Shadows. (Think I’m going to just bite the bullet and start this, so I don’t get too bogged down in procrastination.)
My goal for this month was to finish up the first draft of The Fall. The story is completely outlined–using my favorite, a phase outline–everything is fresh in my mind, I still like the story…but for the past few weeks, forcing myself to sit down and write has been kind of like pulling teeth.
Today, I figured out why: the story that’s outlined, that I’ve been writing, is no longer the story I want to tell.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to tell this story. But the story is no longer about what I thought it was about. So, I have all these little glimpses and glimmers of the other story in my head, but I don’t have my trail mapped out. I’m close to finishing the current draft, but there’s really no point, since I no longer want to tell the story.
So, I’m going to stop writing this story. Give myself a break for the rest of the month to deal with the huge, looming reports due at work. Continue outlining the Witches rewrite, but stop all of my other writing efforts as I focus on the job and school for a couple of weeks.
And bump The Fall to a bit later on my list of writing projects.
Today, I’m looking for something to get me writing. Inspiration, motivation, some kind of cattle prod wired to my chair that zaps me if I get up…. You know, the usual.
I work best under pressure, or with “too much” to do. Something about knowing there are a ton of things that need to be done keeps me focused and allows me to get things accomplished. (A close friend once told me, “You get more done before 9 a.m. than most people do all day!” This is easier if your days routinely start at 3 a.m. I’m just saying…)
My new class—my first journalism class—starts tomorrow, and I’m moderately terrified (likely to upgrade to “completely”.). My job responsibilities changed last week, with the addition of an entire second location to do administrative tasks for. Then there’s the novel I’m writing, the one I’m actively revising, and the one I’m outlining. Not to mention the copywriting class I’m working my way through. And the book reviews that are due or past due. Blogging. I think you see my point.
While this would normally prove super-motivating and really keep me focused and on-task, sometimes, I have to fight a little bit harder to get inspired. (Hence this post instead of my first 500 words of fiction for the day.)
With that in mind, here are four things that might motivate you (and me) to write:
(This show used to crack me up. I just don’t think fast enough on my feet to be able hold my own on a show like that, but it was hilarious.)
I’m not sure if the first line of a story causes me more fear and second-guessing, or the last line, but I’m leaning towards the first line. Think about it: you’re trying to set the tone for an entire novel (or novella or short story or essay or paper…), and you want to capture your audience’s attention as well as the feel of the entire novel. In that one sentence. That’s a lot of pressure for one measly sentence, a mere handful of words.
So which tone do you take?
Iconic? “In the beginning…”
Fantastical? “Once upon a time…”
Historical? “It was the best of times…”
Character-driven? “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful…”
(True story: I actually know the entire first half-page or so of Gone with the Wind by heart. It’s my favorite book ever, and while stylistically it’s not something I can emulate, it certainly paints a vivid picture of Scarlett right off the bat.)
I mean, if we were watching a movie, that opening shot would be—comparatively speaking—much easier to establish setting, world, character, and plot. You’ve got visuals. You could use Johnny Depp against the ocean, or bright words rolling up against a backdrop of stars. There’s an immediate feeling of place.
But what’s the literary equivalent of that opening shot?
My advice is not to worry too much over it when you’re writing your fist draft. (Are you listening, self?) If you have a brilliant idea for the perfect first line, use it. But write the entire piece or novel, and when you go back to revise, get your story in the best possible shape you can, then take a look at your first line. Chances are good that your story will have changed so much that that “perfect” first line is no longer even relevant.
But you’ll have a much better feel for the story and what you’re trying to say, and I’m betting that crafting that elusive perfect first line won’t be quite so hard with that in mind.
This week was fairly productive, considering it was the first week of grad school (Eep!). I did a tiny bit of writing—1,000 words or so—in The Fall, plus outlining 10 scenes in it as well. Having an outline made the writing flow pretty well. Something I know, yet I still started writing this story with no outline. Smart move, there.
I did a little outlining in the Witches revision, also. I’m sort of feeling my way with that, since I’ve revised the story several times, and this is more of a re-write than a revision, but I’m using the current draft as a guideline. We’ll see how that works out. My voice and style have changed significantly since I originally plotted the story.
Yesterday I attended a local authors’ event with a friend. It’s part of the library’s Year of the Book promotion. Each author had a table, and they each spoke for 10 minutes.
My friend and I went because we both love Rachel Caine’s work. (I’ve read The Morganville Vampires series, the Weather Warden series, the Outcast Season spin-offs, and her re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. I’ve been wanting to read her The Great Library series as well.)
Somehow, by sheer luck, we arrived about 15 minutes before Rachel’s talk, just in time to hear Sarah MacTavish. (I feel like I’ve heard of her, but can’t swear to it. I read SO MUCH that authors sometimes get a little bit mixed up in my mind sometimes.) I enjoyed her talk, and the short chat I had with her afterwards, and bought her book, Firebrand. Young adult fiction about the Civil War from an author who carries her supply of books in an R2D2 suitcase? I’m sold! I’m looking forward to the read, just as soon as I wrangle enough time from my schedule for it.
My purchases for the day:
It’s been quite a while since I purchased physical copies of fiction. The bottom two books I bought at the event, the top three at B & N beforehand. I was so excited when I got home, but I had serious reader’s indecision: What to read first?
Answer: Firstlife, by Gena Showalter, because I’m hoping to get approved to review the second book in the series, and because I’ve been interested in this one for a while. Isn’t the cover gorgeous?
Confession: I read the entire thing last night. Loved it! The concept is so unique, and the characters compelled me from the first page. You should definitely read this!
At the beginning of the year, I set quite a few goals for myself (not resolutions). Eight goals in each of three separate categories, one being reading and one being writing. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how I’m doing on those goals, since we’re halfway through the year.
1) Read GWTW.
2) Read 1 book per month from TBR.
3) Read all books on AWR list.
4) Read one classic per month.
5) Read one book of poetry.
6) Read 2 books per month to review.
7) Read one inspirational book per month.
8) Read 75 books.
I haven’t read any of Gone with the Wind since January, so I better get on that. I have read one book each month from my TBR pile. I successfully read all of the books on the reading list for my American Women Writers class. I have read a classic per month. I have not read any poetry. (Oops.) I’ve read and reviewed at least two books each month. I’ve read at least one inspirational book each month. And I’ve currently read 69 out of my goal of 75 books.
1) Finish Witches HTRYN.
2) Finish 1st draft of Siren Song.
3) Finish 1st draft of The Fall.
4) Start Camelot.
5) Revise Casting Shadows.
6) Finish copyediting classes and start making money at it.
7) Have 500 followers on this blog.
8) Have 200 followers on my personal blog.
I’m still working on the revision of Witches.Siren Song is outlined, but I stopped working on it, and started writing on The Fall again. No progress on Camelot. No progress on Casting Shadows. I’m still working on the copyediting classes. I’m still chipping away at the blog goals.
Verdict: I’m doing okay on my goals, but I need to get it together and get on all of them!
I used to make very complicated, intricately planned-out lists of resolutions every year. A few years ago, I stopped that, but this year I decided to give it another go. I ended up with three separate lists (Life, Writing, and Reading), each with eight goals.
Here are my Writing goals for the year:
1) Finish Witches HTRYN.
2) Finish 1st draft of Siren Song.
3) Finish 1st draft of The Fall.
4) Start Camelot
5) Revise Casting Shadows.
6) Finish copyediting classes and make X dollars at it per month.
7) Have 500 followers on this blog. (I can dream, right?)
8) Have 200 followers on my personal blog (It’s a goal.)
Here are my Reading goals:
1) Read Gone with the Wind (for at least the 25th time. I normally read it every year, but it’s been a few years.).
2) Read 1 book per month from my TBR shelf.
3) Read all books on the reading list for my American Women Writers class (8 total).
I haven’t gotten much writing done this week (if any), between working six days and wrestling with trying to decide whether or not to start drafting another story. I’m still pretty torn. The Muse wants something new to play with, but she still likes Siren Song, too.
So…I think I’m going to get Siren Song outlined as I continue writing bits of it (I have an outline for the next couple of thousand words anyway). I’m also going to work on brainstorming, then outlining The Fall and the Camelot story. Then…I’ll start drafting at least one of those ideas, albeit in smaller chunks than Siren Song. This will keep the Muse entertained and engaged. I’ll also continue to do my POV-edit on Witches, then do an in-depth edit when I finish that.
Just out of curiosity, how many projects can you work on at a time? (Not physically simultaneously, just, you know, during the same general time frame.) I’ve read about people with more than one WIP at a time, and the idea is slightly…mind-boggling to me.
I’m editing one project, Witches, and writing Siren Song. But…I still have The Fall rattling around back in there, and then there’s that new Camelot/King Arthur/Guinevere story the Muse wants to play with….Sigh. Don’t get me wrong, my writing goals are not very intense right now. If I get in a couple of 500-word sessions a week, I call it a good week (the habit is what’s important to me right now, after an extremely extended hiatus from writing.). I also don’t want to lose the emotion I have for those other two stories. Not when holding on to my motivation has been so tricky anyway.
The idea I’m currently considering: continue editing Witches of course, to the tune of about 5 chapters a week. (This is just really a pass to change it from 3rd-person POV to multiple 1st-person, not an in-depth revision.) Continue writing (at least) two 500-word sessions on Siren Song a week. One session with The Fall. And one with the Camelot story. Every week. To facilitate this, I would also want to actually outline all three stories before starting to write the other two. I don’t have any sort of outline for Siren Song, so this would undoubtedly be beneficial in that regard.
Is this insanity? Has anyone tried writing multiple stories like this at the same time?
Real Life Update: I started my new job last week. This week, I was in Dallas for training. Wednesday morning, I had a brief visual disturbance (double vision) that scared the crap out of me. My doc wanted me to get checked out, so I had a brief eval from paramedics, then spent several hours in the E.R. at Baylor Dallas. CT and everything was clear, so they released me. My new boss came to check on me. I was horrified, but that was awesome of him. I’m off until Monday to rest (so I missed almost all of Wednesday, and all of Thursday, but that’s it). I feel fine. No issues since, and they’re pretty sure it was stress-related, but I see my neuro next Friday to get his take on it. (In case anyone is wondering, I had a stroke two years ago without warning. Haven’t had any of these issues in about 15 months.) I took it easy yesterday–pedicure and a nap–and I’m taking it easy today as well. I feel fine, but I think a nap is next on the agenda.
Writing Update: Got my words in on Siren Song last week. I’ll get a few more today/this weekend, as well as some editing. My Personal and Professional Editing class should be interesting. This week, we learned about Style Sheets (which I’d never heard of), so I’ll be grabbing that idea and running with it. If you’re interested in how editing has changed, our textbook is Editors on Editing (ed. by Gerald Gross), and the essays are pretty fascinating to me.