Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blank Square

There is nothing I like better than to check my calendar and find there is NOTHING ON IT. One plain blank square! A day without an obligation to anyone else. Hooray!!! Of course the painter will still be here working on our remodeling project, but he's quiet, pleasant, and efficient so I've gotten used to him. And there is the DOG. In her great age--almost fourteen--she has learned how to manipulate me even better than the rest of my family so I will have to attend to our walk and her other doggy needs, but basically, THE DAY IS MINE.

I'm trying to build the momentum to finish revising my novel. I lost it completely this fall between the remodel, the onset of Christmas, and trying to market short stories. At least the last was writing related. I've sent out about 55 submissions and received about 28 rejections since last August. I expect an onslaught of rejections now that the holidays are over and the college lit students strive to meet their deadlines. I'm sure that my stories have been tossed into corners too. It happens. I sent out three stories in quantity and a couple additional ones to a contest or two. This brings me into a new realm of writing: actually sending out stuff I write. So that's a positive. Still, the novel has been shoved on the back burner, occasionally stirred and tasted, but few new ingredients added to the stew.

Now it's time to move it to the front. I've already started. I've rewritten or rather edited three chapters and have reread and reedited two of them. Once I do chapter three, I'm taking them off the stove and setting them in the window to cool. I will try very hard not to nibble on them until the whole dinner is cooked. What an analogy. Sorry about that but sometimes I can't help myself. Oh well. It's time to head out for the garage. I'm trying to stay accountable in this space to my writing and perhaps that will prove the nudge I need.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Accountability, uh-oh!

Okay so I wrote my goals yesterday and it was exhilerating. However, I never did make it out to the garage! Is that crazy? By the time I got dressed and walked the dog and did all those things I need to do before I can actually go out, some one called and then it was 11:15 and the parade of workman were due to come from 12-4 and I can't be in the garage then. I made stew instead of writing, and I threw away all the fattening left overs.

While I waited for the repair men I did start a review of The March. I have a hair up my butt about it because the praise is so profuse and while I liked it, enjoyed reading it, it's no Tess of the D'urbevilles and I don't understand how I'll ever succeed when literary books feel shallow to me and yet they win prizes. I just don't get it.

I'm still working on the review to get the sarcasm out of it...or at least to justify the sarcasm and will post it on my blog sometime in the next couple of days. So I can't really say "I didn't write," but I can't really say I did.

Here's a clarification. General fooling around writing counts 1/4 of a point compared to fiction writing on either a short story or the novel.

That way I won't be saying I wrote a thank you note and using that as my "writing" for the day. That doesn't count this year!!!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Fresh Start

Okay so the end of 2006 fell in a hole. It's done, over, finito. Now for the NEW YEAR and a FRESH START.

January Goals

1. Write. I am a writer. My goal is to write every day, long and hard, and in a professional manner, so that I will actually finish my book and also develop and complete other writing projects.

I will think in terms of DAILY hours at the computer, not minutes, in order to complete my book as well as work on the thousand other writing projects I have.

2. Be accountable. I will report here every day even if my message is brief, even if all I write is "I didn't write." The reason? If I force myself to post about writing, then I will force myself to notice of the amount of time and effort I put into writing. If I don't write, then perhaps I will get tired of typing "I didn't write" and TAKE action.

3. Commit. Whether I write for five minutes or five hours,I will write EVERY SINGLE DAY. No missing. If I am pressed for time, then I will write with the egg timer set so that I know once I fulfill my commitment to write--even for 5 minutes--I can guiltlessly attend to "real life" business. No wasting time, feeling sorry for myself, wandering to the refrigerator to get a snack, doing a quick sudoku, taking the Spider Solitaire detour. I will get what I have to do in "real life" done, and get back to the writing.

4. Have fun. One of the reasons I write is because it's fun. It is PLAY despite the fact that I am serious about it. But I often forget to allow the "fun" to happen because I am either worried about who will tell me it sucks--voices in my head as I type--or I go straight to the point, how useless this all is because I'll never finish. I'm giving that up. Right now.

Actually. I think I have already given it up.

I have a right to write and to have fun. Give up the worry. Just do it. I often forget that nothing can be perfect the first time around, so I must insist when I get stuck to move on, change scenes, be creative about my approach.

5. Market. Continue on my quest to send out work. Use revising shorter stuff as a break from the novel but allow myself to use my hours to write and market rather than waste time with tv or computer games or visiting that big white appliance that lies in wait for me in the kitchen.

I did not achieve my goal of 100 rejections this past year. I will start fresh and send out again and again. I still have several prospects out in the market ether and perhaps one or two might yield something, but I will not focus on the result once the decision is out of my hands. What I will focus on is getting good stuff into into its best shape and continuing to put it out there. As I do this, hopefully I will learn what works and doesn't work, not just through the rejections, but through the experience of shaping and reworking my stuff.

6. Read. Read long hard and well. Think about what I'm reading, why it works or doesn't work for me. Read fiction and non-fiction. Explore areas of interest and non-interest because ya never know.

7. Explore. Explore long hard and well. Every experience will enrich my real life and my writing life. But don't let the exploring take over the writing. Writing first. Writing first.