I’d like to emphasize this blog post from the blog Writer Unboxed. Some very interesting results from this survey – of high interest to writers in particular. Have a look.
My college roommate in Dublin: 100 pages into Sweet Corn, Fields, Forever
Okay. I was tempted to call this a Busy Person’s Update, but I could just hear someone saying out loud, “We’re all busy these days!” And they’d be right, But there’s phenomena at work here, at least for me, and it’s something I think we’ve all seen.
How the busy person, despite vows to the contrary, gets busier, no matter what.
I had come off a full year of ‘stuff’ in my life. Getting two books up on Amazon, some personal and family illness, house reno, doing my part on a group anthology, escaping a hurricane and recovering from its aftermath, prepping for Christmas, Christmas with all the family in…. and then I go and decide to attempt the Hallmark project.
Why do I do these things? I was already set to focus on just 2 of my books, two I plan to market for traditional publication. The anthology was behind me (although our group is eagerly taking on another one). In the back of my mind I was prepping for returning to the home reno I’d had to temporarily (see that word, kids? temporarily) abandon. But, as mentioned previously in this blog, the opportunity was too good to pass up. I did finish the book, complete with proper revisions, and submitted it in time. 82,000+ words. No word back yet.
Still, even with that in submission limbo, I was left with 2 books with major tangly problems to work on, and a house and yard begging for attention. You’d think that was enough. No, I had to get the bug to write an article about a local meadery – I have developed a taste for mead, or honey wine, as some refer to it. I want to share what I’ve learned. So, I’ve gone and pitched an article for that.
WHY do we do this to ourselves? Is it because we can’t stand being idle? Does it hearken back to school days where every teacher loaded you up saying you needed to do all these assignments in order to pass/succeed? Is it because we feel a responsibility to ‘step up’ and take on something we’re asked to do, even if it’s ourselves doing the asking?
Is it the ‘shiny new thing’ distraction? We just have to do the new thing?
Today we seem to be caught between the idea of slow-down-stop-to-smell-the-roses-appreciate-life approach and the drive-to-succeed-I-can-do-everything-bring-it-on mentality. How do we handle that?
I think a few people thrive at either end of the spectrum. Some of us cycle between the two approaches – although personally I could use a little longer on the smelling the roses bit. Unlike a true bell curve, I think only a few strike a balance. I envy them, I think…although a little bit of mania in life can be a good thing. We should feel free to enjoy the rush while it feels good.
Maybe that’s the thing: doing what works for you. People are different; what works for one can be killing to another. Find your own working process. Find your story. And then thrive.
I began writing on December 30. As of today, in the morning, I have 4 chapters to go and have crossed the 52,000 word mark. I expect to have to add words during revision, plus the remaining chapters contain a lot. I expect to hit my word goal, I just don’t know when.
Just wanted to announce the Off the Page Writing group is holding a Book Signing on February 8 from 7-9 pm for our newly-published anthology: The Mayors’ Tales: Stories from the Kyleighburn Archives.
You can learn more about the event at the Mackenzie Wilder/Classic Boat mysteries page.
In addition to reading from and signing the anthology, our writers will have their other books on hand for purchase and signing. If you’re in the neighborhood, please drop by.
Finding One’s WayI’ve written before about working on multiple projects.
This past year I had a taste of what it was like to be locked into a large project with a deadline. One that involved co-writers (for the results of that project, see my post from December 16 Press Release: New Anthology).
I have to admit, while I liked working on the project itself – it was exciting! – I was anguished and frustrated over not being able to work on my other projects simultaneously. Next, of course, came the holidays, as well as some neck pain issues, which were directly related to time spent at the computer.
The holidays were finally over. People were headed home. But, unfortunately, my son-in-law, also a writer, and I had a little conversation.
You see, I had fired out a set of notes on a Hallmark-style movie idea I’d had centered on Christmas. I figured that as I got caught up on my next two projects and got a little braver, I’d see how you went about submitting (and writing) a movie treatment or even a script. We all know how these big fantasies go, right? I mentioned this at the table one night when my son-in-law had his laptop up. He nodded his head and went on checking the Intenet.
“You know,” he said a few minutes later, “Hallmark is having open submissions next month for un-agented book manuscripts. I’ll send you the link.”
Ever pause to ponder how much trouble those five little words cause in this post-Internet life?
I was off. I found the link, followed it, read the blogpost it was associated with, followed the recommended Twitter account, and discovered I had basically one month to write a book in if I wanted to take advantage of this situation. Now, I believe in myself, but I have no agent. Un-agented submission opportunities are rare, nearly nonexistent. This was not an opportunity to be squandered. But, it would mean diving into a concentrated time expense/effort that would isolate me once again from everyday life AND family AND from my other projects. I have 2 novels that have been patient with me for about as long as they can stand. I expect them to hold me hostage and demand I feed them words any day now.
BUT – the opportunity.
BUT – could I write roughly 75,000 words in 30–some days AND polish them into a state for submission? That pace is faster than NaNoWriMo, and more demanding because it has to be submission ready. The decision was not an easy one.
But I come to you now, frazzle-headed, weary, grateful for the P’T for my neck, and so distracted at my part-time job that they must think I’m a twit (a word that means ‘pregnant goldfish’, did you know that?). And I come to you roughly 18 days into this venture and slightly more than halfway done with a rough draft that I am revising on the run as my son and daughter (also writers) provide me feedback.
Those living at home gave me a thumbs up, and organized the rest of the family into my cheering section. I get to brag on my progress, and they get to applaud my efforts.
Is the manuscript any good? Heck if I know. Right now it’s mostly draft 1.
Will I finish in time? Ditto.
Have I driven my family nuts yet? Well, so far as I can tell, not any more than usual.
What I have done, however, is lived up to the promise I made myself someplace along the way. I know I have a certain amount of talent. I know can persevere, if I only will. So the promise is this: I will try. I will always try, and try my best. I will complete this novel, and I will make it the very best I can. And, if the timing works, I will submit it.
And if the timing fails, I will submit it somewhere else, or at another time.
Being a writer, finding your story – it’s like any endeavor in life. For any endeavor in life to succeed, you must live fully into it, give it all your effort, your best shot. That is all you can do, but it is what you must do to know you really tried.
Try your hardest. Find your story, find your way. And you find yourself.
I have been lucky enough to participate in a project with a terrific local writing group called Off the Page. At the formation of the group, we were taken with the idea of building a world and populating it with characters whose stories we would tell in an anthology.
As Editor, I was thrilled with how our writers drew on their skills to not only craft solid stories, but to grow their talents. Several of us worked outside our comfort zones. However, the stories, diverse as they are with romance, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy and from similarly diverse authors, build a picture of a small community in North Carolina that undergoes a mysterious event that permanently affects its future.
from the cover:
Welcome to Kyleighburn, North Carolina, (population 3,000). A labyrinthine cavern has suddenly opened up beneath sleepy little hamlet and what it reveals to the startled residents will affect the town and its residents forever. The huge complex is filled with weird glowing flowers and vines tended by a swarm of over-large bees. Where did this come from, and who will it affect? The answers are in the stories.Dip into the archives and read the stories of Kyleighburn, NC and its good citizens. There’s the mayor, Marino Esposito, a very unbureaucratic civil servant who seems perpetually at odds with The Mayor (always with a capital T.M.) who happens to be a canine. Tattooed and pierced and amnesiac, Joe the bartender doesn’t remember his past, and perhaps that why he seems so cheerful about his present. The town’s bubbling, vivacious librarian can’t follow her own rules, and a quiet handyman flutters the ladies’ hearts and confuses everyone with his lack of history.Each story from the archive casts Kyleighburn in fresh light, with tales from the ancient past to the bustling present, stories about love and family and war and cruelty, all tied in some way to the event that changes things forever.In what began as an exercise to see what they could do, writers from Off The Page built a world to share and people to live there. The authors then contributed unique stories, each from their own preferred genres. The result was more than they expected. In this book you will find science fiction, romance, history, comic humor, and mystery, all written in straight-forward fashion. The Mayor’s Tales: Stories from the Kyleighburn Archives is an achievement of dedication, talent, and enthusiasm. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Kyleighburn.
- Paperback: 294 pages
- Publisher: Independently published (December 15, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1790966183
- ISBN-13: 978-1790966189
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches