draft 2


Image: Monster. via flickr

Image: Monster. via flickr

Yes, it’s been awhile. I owe some Artist’s Way updates, but for now, my reemergence into the blogging world is going to be marked by a bit of venting about my novel-in-progress. Here’s the email I just sent off to a couple members of my writing group about my little problem…I thought I’d share so you, my readers, might have an insight into this sometimes frustrating process called writing a novel! I realize this is the first time I’ve used my characters names in this blog or even really mentioned any details (eve vague & unspecific ones) about the plot. Consider it a fluke or a sign of complete laziness to rewrite the email to take out any “specific” details.

And now, my vent… (more…)

With the end of week 4, I have come a third of the way through this process. I feel a real sense of accomplishment that I’ve stayed with the process and committed to it. Now, having said that, I will admit to being a little lax in working through this week’s tasks. As this week was about recovering a sense of integrity, I’m owning up to my slacking. That’s not to say that this week was a bad week. It was actually a good week full of some good things in terms of where I am mentally and creatively. (more…)

Yes, it’s been awhile. I could blame life, but really I think it was laziness that got in the way of me posting.

Yes, life has been trying at times. Definitely some days that I couldn’t wait to get over with–specifically my mother’s birthday (May 9) & Mother’s Day (May 10). Yep, back-to-back. After I passed the 6-month mark in March, I think I became obsessed with how I would or wouldn’t get through that weekend in May. On the upside, I got through it with a trip out of town. I knew I couldn’t be home that weekend. I knew it would be too hard. Instead, I went to DC to spend it with my brother & a lot of really good friends, who for the most part did a great job of distracting me & keeping me busy. Admittedly, attending the wedding of one friend on my mother’s birthday was not ideal. It was a little hard to stand in the church & know that when/if I ever finally decide to get married, my mother won’t be there. That wasn’t a reminder I needed on her birthday. I had thought about skipping the wedding, but I knew I couldn’t. And in the end, as hard as it was to be there, I’m glad I was there. My brother & I dealt with Mother’s Day by essentially ignoring it. Sometimes, that really is the best way to deal with things.

I’m relieved to have made it through that weekend. These last 8 months of events/holidays to get through & get past  have been just that, things & days to get through & get past. Unfortunately, what I realized the day after I returned home was that getting through or past any of these events/holidays really doesn’t mean anything. Yes, I’ve gotten though the one, but there are a lifetime more to come. This just keeps going. Yes, I will admit that today was better than yesterday; but the reality is, however many days, months, or years pass between the day my mother died & where I am, the fact remains, she’s still not here.

God, depressing. I so didn’t mean for this post to be such a downer. (more…)

Image: Inma :) via flickr

Image: Inma 🙂 via flickr

I don’t know where I’ve been, but I’m back.

Weeks 24-27 & number 28 today. They came & went. One just blends into another these days, so I guess I can just let them go without saying much more.

The 6 month mark didn’t pass by as easily. The day was blah. Tears were shed. I finally realized I do most of my crying while driving. Sunglasses help to keep the other drivers from wondering what the hell is wrong. I’ve been able to drive through it; only once in the last 6 months have I had to pull over. Anyways, I’ll get around to writing a post for that day. But for now, I survived it. I guess that’s the important part. The main observation to come out of it was how quickly & how slowly time has passed. And now I get to look forward to 1-year. Fuck.

On the writing front, things have gone really well. I took another writing class this past quarter (just finished last week). As I wrote in my last post, I got incredibly good feedback from my instructor. The positive feedback started with my editing skills and then extended into really great comments on my writing & my novel. The course focused on writing & rewriting the 1st 50-pages of your novel. So, I really feel like I came out of it with a good start, with material that should carry me forward. I had my weaknesses pointed out & spent the course addressing them. I feel like I know how to overcome them now which is great. (more…)

Currently listening to: Shh by Frou Frou

Yesterday I met one-on-one with a writing friend. “IM” & I met via my writing group. She’s decided to step away from the group recently, but she & I have decided to keep meeting every couple weeks. We spent 4-hours talking about writing in general & our work specifically. I love when I’m around people who see things the way I do & who are going through the same writing struggles. It’s nice to be able to encourage, motivate, & help each other.

I had sent my pages to her late the night before, so she’d only been able to get through the first half before we met up. She was incredibly positive. I respect her writing & her opinion, so it was a great vote of confidence. She had the same criticism as everyone else–those damn transitions. But, she said I shouldn’t use my struggle with them as an excuse to take the easy way out & retreat to a linear timeline. She gave me some ideas on how I might be able to fix things. So, I’ll keep playing.

I also received feedback from my instructor on my most recent submission this morning. Overall, really good comments. This is some of what he had to say:

“You’re narrating from the emotional center of your character. This story so far is so emotionally raw and truthful. Your decision to write about an emotionally repressed character…is brilliant because the emotionality of the story is played entirely inside the character. From the outside she may look like a cipher, but her interior struggle is powerfully dramatic, without being at all melodramatic.”

Again, the pesky transitions were mentioned; but more so the opening one than the rest of them. He pretty much told me to just move forward for now & put the opening transitions on the back burner. I’m still going to work on them, but he’s right, I just need to move forward.

Feeling good. Next, & final, submission is due in 2-1/2 weeks. I’m supposed to be up to 50-pages by then. I’ll try not to leave it all to the last minute this time.

I’ve received some comments back on my recent submission. I fear the structure I want to work isn’t working. Part of it still could be that I need more to ground the reader in the present moment before I switch to the flashbacks. I definitely can see that. I’ve felt that those bookend scenes have been a little sparse. So, once I flesh them out some more, I might be able to keep the structure I want. But, I’m starting to see that maybe I’m complicating things too much. Maybe linear does work.

Regardless of the structure issues, I’m still getting good reviews for plot and character. So, I feel that the story is fine & keeping readers interested. The bulk of the comments I’m getting are about the structure; so, I know that is what I need to focus in on.

As an experiment, I cut up my draft & rearranged it into a linear timeline. Now, I have 2 versions. I’ll read both & see what I think.

Tomorrow morning I’m meeting one-on-one with one of the members of my writing group. I actually really love her writing & she’s really good at helping me work through writing issues. I sent her my pages today to see what she thought. Her comments on the first couple pages raised the same issues that my class has been raising. So, no big surprises. Thus, the cut & paste for version 2. I’m looking forward to talking to her about it face-to-face.

So, keeping at it.

Currently listening to: Frozen Angels by Zoe Keating

Turned in my second submission this afternoon for my novel writing class. A total of 22 pages. Four chapters. A little short of the goal of 25, but close enough. The first 10 pages were a revision of what I submitted the first time. So, we’ll see if they read any better. I think I smoothed out the transitions which were the major complaint. And I think I’ve worked out the structure for the first part of the novel. Those chapters will open in the present, then flashback for the bulk of the chapter, & then come back to the present at the end of the chapter. Hopefully it’s not too confusing and works. I really hope it works. I really really really hope it works because I’ve grown attached to this structure. I don’t know if I could go back to a totally linear timeline. This structure lets me do so much more setting up of one of the key relationships.

As for the other 12-pages, all new stuff. Well, not entirely new. The plot movement is basically the same as the 1st draft, but there were a few unexpected twists this time around. I’ll have to see if it works out as I go forward.

So, now I wait for comments. And then it’s onto submission #3 in 3 weeks. I need to hit 50-pages for that one. I definitely can’t leave that to the last minute.

Off to twiddle my thumbs. Actually, I need to work on an assignment for the grant writing class I’m taking. A completely different kind of writing, & a tad less fun. But, a good skill to have.

avlxyz via flickr

Image: avlxyz via flickr

I’ll gloss over the fact that today is Valentine’s Day. I don’t buy into it. Ok, I’m currently single which could be coloring my view of the whole thing, but I digress.

21 Saturdays now. Not any easier. I made an effort today to try & do something I would normally have done on a Saturday afternoon. More often than not the last 21 Saturdays I’ve found myself at home around the time that I found her. My writing group ends at noon, & I’m usually home by 1 to check on the dogs, & then I just tend to get stuck at home. I don’t have the motivation to do much on Saturday afternoons–especially right around that time. If someone invites me out for that time period, I’m fine. But if left to my own devices, I seem to find myself here. Sometimes I’ll read, sometimes TV, sometimes just sitting outside, sometimes on the laptop; but here. So, today, I made an effort. I went & wandered around a bookstore for the afternoon; something, I oddly don’t think I’ve done in months. I know I have been in bookstores in the last 21 weeks. I have the books & magazines to prove it. But I don’t think I’ve just wandered as I would have any other Saturday afternoon before. So, today I did. I found a couple books to add to my to read list: (more…)

Currently listening to: All Right by Sigur Ros

Today, a member of my writing group emailed me this article from Writer’s Digest by Elizabeth Sims:

Get Messy With Your First Draft

Sims writes about letting yourself be free and open when writing your first draft. Tell your control freak side to surrender. Just let go & write. Don’t worry about structure. Don’t worry about ideas that come out of nowhere or tangents that don’t quite fit, get them all down on paper regardless. Don’t judge your writing. If you do this, you’ll find your second draft to be an easier going because you will have more good stuff than you know what to do with.

I think I followed Sims advice to a certain extent. My control freak-structured-side & my creative-day dreamy-writer-side have been at war for years. So, I did worry about structure & I did over think a lot of things. But I did explore the tangents; & I think for the most part, I let whatever was floating around in my over active imagination come out. And what she says about having an easier going on the second draft because you’ll have more good stuff than you know what to do with, I have to say, it’s kind of true. Admittedly, I’m struggling with transitions, tense, & other issues, but I’ve also had moments where I’ve realized that it’s ok to kill a darling because there is something else that’s even better. Now, that’s kind of cool & helps restore my faith that I will, eventually, get this done. (more…)

Currently listening to: Climbing Up the Walls by Radiohead (I’m a little obsessed with this song these days.)

I’m proud of myself. I spent a good 3-4 hours writing. Actually, it was more revising than anything.

I don’t know how I had intended the writing of this 2nd draft to proceed. I don’t think I was planning to plow through from beginning to end with no stops in between like I did for draft 1. That technique worked great for getting the story down on paper & out of my head. I had to keep myself from over thinking as I wrote it just to get through it.

So, now on draft 2, I’m wondering what I was planning to do. I don’t think I was just going to plow through again, leaving holes & problems to be fixed on draft 3, but maybe I was. Maybe I was thinking that I just needed to get through a draft in 1st person from beginning to end to see if it worked. (more…)

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