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…)

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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…)

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…)

As I’ve meandered along (ok, scraped, clawed, & tortured myself) through this novel-in-progress of mine, I’ve never seriously expected to make a living from it. Of course I’ve had the occasional daydream of such a life & of calling myself a working novelist. But what I’ve come to realize is that I’d be happy just being a full-time working writer. Admittedly, I’d like all my future writing to be spent on work I love, and not on work I need; but still, I’d just like to be able to answer that inevitable What do you do for a living question by saying I’m a writer.

Writer Steve Almond, author of (Not That You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions and The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories, has an funny/interesting essay in Sunday’s LA Times Books section, Can’t Say No: Why One Writer Can’t Turn Down Any Assignments, about what it means to be a working writer & why being considered a writing “slut” isn’t such a bad thing.

It really wouldn’t be such a bad thing.