draft 2


Yeah, so I’ve been a bad blogger. I apologize profusely. I am thoroughly chastised.

So, what have I been up to?

The magazine job is still going well. Almost 5 months in and it still feels like a great fit. I’ve had two feature articles published at this point–one on the national sleep poll and another on recruiting in the respiratory therapist industry–two topics I’d never thought I’d write about. Even though this is medical/trade publishing, it’s still great experience. I don’t know where I want my career in magazine publishing to go. All I know is that for right now, it’s the right fit for my skills, interests, and strengths. And it gives me a chance to write and edit. (more…)

Monday I had lunch with a writing friend who has read pages of my novel-in-progress. She’s been a great sounding board for this story. Out of nowhere, she asked me if I had a title yet. The timing was a bit funny because only in the last week had I started to think that I had finally found something that was perfect. So, I floated my idea by her and she said it sounded perfect. (Yes, at times, my need for validation can be a bit ridiculous. I’m conscious of it and will be seeking therapy to deal with it once I finish this damn book and everyone tells me they love it.)

I had worried that I’d never come up with a title and would be submitting it to agents as “Untitled” or at worst, offering up prize money to a blog reader who could give me a good one. When it comes to writing, titles are the bane of my existence. Whether it be a title for a school paper, an article for the school newspaper, or hell, a title for a post on this blog, I suck at coming up with anything original, informative, funny, or witty. The only thing worse has been helping a friend come up with a name for her soon-to-be-born daughter. (Although, thankfully, I get final say on this one and won’t be resorting to a nickname to make the name palatable. Ok, the name isn’t that bad. There were worse ones under consideration. But I guarantee you, this kid will be spelling/explaining her name for the rest of her life.)

But, thanks to a song on my iPod, I think I’ve got a title.

So, my novel has a name, and it’s…Unraveling.

Currently listening to: Can’t Hide by Sarah Jarosz

Today marks the halfway mark for National Novel Writing Month (i.e., NaNoWriMo), which means I should be at 25,000 words. Hmmm…well, let’s just say I’m a bit short. No need for specifics. I’m not counting myself out quite yet. I have made movement, but any significant advance in my word count was curbed by some serious editing & preparing for my second submission of pages for my novel class last week. Comments have started coming in on those, but I haven’t yet looked at them. No, I’m not having another anxiety attack about being liked, but rather, I don’t want to get sidetracked. If I look at them, I’m going to want to go back right now and work on whatever needs fixing when my focus needs to be on moving forward. So,  I will refrain, at least until tomorrow when they will demand my attention so that I can ask follow-up questions and issue some thank you’s to classmates & instructor for reading. (more…)

Nanowrimo 2009 largeYes, I’m doing National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, or NaNo for short, again this year. This marks my 5th year. The first three years I succeeded and hit 50,000 words. Last year, I failed miserably. But all things considered, the fact that I even ventured to try to do it last year was an accomplishment.

Day 1 is off to a good start. Met up with a group of NaNo-ers this morning & spent 4 hours writing. Got just over 1,800 words–making the daily word count goal of 1667 words. Admittedly, my writing was a little slower going than a usual NaNo as I am being a bit of a NaNo rebel this year. Instead of adhering to the original NaNo principle of starting a novel from scratch on Day 1, I am doing this 50K as part of my WIP. So, I’m reluctant to just spew words out in the hope of making my word count every day. I’m trying to make them quality words in the hope that upon revision few will need to be hacked away. The goal is to work forward on the WIP and be closer to being finished on December 1 than I was when I started.

In the midst of all this, my next submission for my class is due November 10. I’ll be submitting the next 30-pages. Some of them are already written, some need to be heavily revised, & others need to be written from scratch. And I’ll be doing all this while working on NaNo.

So, if you hear from me even less than usual this month that will be why. But you can always find me wasting time on Twitter.

So, those comments I was so anxious about…

Well, they really were nothing to be afraid of, even though it took me another 3 days to finally look at them. (When I get a bit irrational, I get really irrational.)

So, FWI* raised 3 issues:

  1. One of my supporting characters is too much a shadow right now. He needs to be filled in.
  2. I’m spending too much time in some scenes. I’m being a bit methodical—showing every movement in a scene. I need to cut into and out some of the scenes more quickly.
  3. There is no stated geographical setting.

None of these issues surprises me. They’re all things of which I’ve been aware. (more…)

Image: svanes via flickr

Image: svanes via flickr

I’m experiencing something I’ve never before experienced with my novel-in-progress: anxiety.

We’re talking major butterflies. I seriously feel like I want to throw-up. (FYI: It usually takes a lot to make me feel like this.)

My favorite/current writing instructor, plus a couple of my workshop mates, has just posted comments on the novel pages I submitted for workshop this week. And I can’t bring myself to open the files with the comments to see what they had to say. The thought of doing so makes me want to back away from my computer and hide in the closet. (more…)

Image: Markus Rodder via Flickr

Image: Markus Rodder via Flickr

Yes, I’ve been a terribly horrible blogger, but if it’s any consolation, know that my words have instead been poured into that infamous novel-in-progress.

Yes, I’ve been making progress & it feels good. Admittedly, most of the progress made has less to do with me being a diligent self-motivated worker & more to do with the looming deadline for my novel class & the overwhelming need to impress my favorite writing instructor with these new pages. Hey, but whatever keeps me on task!

So, the new noveling class is going well. It feels so good to be back with my favorite writing instructor (from here on out referred to as FWI), & already I’m feeling the love. Here’s what I got back last week from him for one of my critiques:

Hurry up and publish your novel so I can recommend you to teach one of these courses [in the] Writer’s Program. Your readings are that good.

Sorry, but my writer/editor ego relishes these kudos. Pathetic I know! Chalk it up to the fragile artist’s ego…ok, so mine’s not really so fragile. It’s just nice to be patted on the back & share it publicly.  (more…)

Well, just got the official enrollment for my fall writing class which will have me working with my favorite instructor again. There was some question as to whether or not I would be able to enroll in the class, but it’s all official now. Which means I have only 7 days to get the first 50-pages of my novel-in-progress ready for the 1st day of class. I’ve known that I would need these pages ready for the first day for weeks, but the fact that my enrollment was up in the air kind of found me procrastinating on all the editing that needs to be done. So, now I have to go through those pages and chop and massage what I’ve already written, and add where needed.

One of the more complicated tasks is that I now need to go back in and weave two separate threads together. Earlier this summer I made the decision to write this draft of my novel in a chronological format even though my plan is to have the final product be a back-and-forth of present & past. So, to ensure that my structure is working, I need to piece it all back together again so that my readers are seeing it in the format I intend. While the structure is a bit complicated at times, I know it works. My instructor who I’ve workshopped this with before has assured me it does and that I shouldn’t take the easy way out and go straight chronological. But, I know I have to ensure an emotional consistency to the two threads which at times is unintentionally easy, and at others, irritatingly frustrating. Essentially I need the emotional tone of the flashback to mirror the present scene it sprung from. This was something my instructor dinged me on in the earlier draft he saw, and I really want to fix it before he sees this new draft.

So, work to be done and 7 days to pull it all together. On the upside, I thrive under a deadline. Seriously, if someone assigned me a deadline for this novel and could come up with a real threat that would cause me some discomfort–either emotional, physical, or financial–I would totally get this novel done in no time. But short of a publication date and a hefty advance riding on it, I’ll have to settle for workshop pressure and the need to impress my instructor. Whatever works I suppose.

Even though I’m still wallowing in the middle of my own personal wasteland, AKA draft #2, I’ve started to pay attention to the business side of publishing. Yes, I have a ways to go before I need to face it head on with my own work, but the fact is, I find the publishing industry fascinating, so I don’t mind learning all the intricacies of the process, from writing to publication.

The bleakness of the publishing industry is a constant theme these days. I even touched on it in my post/rant yesterday on the state of journalism. And I’ve heard and read over and over again that literary fiction doesn’t sell. You would think that would make me reconsider my work-in-progress, but the fact is, I’m not writing for publication nor am I catering my writing to what sells. I am writing this story, which falls into the category of literary fiction, because it is the story I want to tell. It is also a story I would like to read. That has always been my foremost priority, writing a book I like. If someone else should ever like it as much as I do, well, great. But as I slog away at draft #2 that’s not my focus and it’s not what keeps me motivated on those days I just want to be done with it and chuck the whole damn thing. (more…)

Made peace with a decision today. I withdrew from the writing course I’ve been taking this summer. The decision was difficult because I’m not one to quit a class. I want the grade & I want to move forward. However, this course was becoming more of a chore than it ever should have been. The course focused on writing & critiquing the mid-section of your novel-in-progress. Over the course of the last 7 weeks I’ve steadily lost interest in the class. And with 3 weeks to go, I knew I just couldn’t go through the motions anymore.

Throughout the course, I was submitting pages just to submit pages, not because I was looking forward to the feedback from either the instructor or my fellow students. And it’s not as if any of their comments were in any way negative. They were all fine; honestly, positive. However, they did lack the depth I think I was craving. I know my work isn’t perfect, and I need people to point out the flaws so I can fix them. I think the real problem was I went into this class expecting to get the same type of workshop experience that I had with my instructor Robert from winter quarter who I loved and who just really dug into my work (actually, everyone’s work) & found those spots that I didn’t realize were good & the ones that were crap. Even better, he gave me direction on how to rectify the problem. I think I wanted the structure of his workshop. And, to be honest, I never really clicked with the current instructor & I’ve come to realize that in a writing course, that is important. (more…)

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