Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Serious Writer: Row80

Good news on the dedicated writer front. Contrary to pattern, I am actually sticking with this “serious writer” thing. There is, of course, a difference between being a writer and being a “serious writer.” And, yes, the quotes are required.

I’ve always enjoyed writing. I like world-building, legos for the mind I suppose: a jumble of multi-colored plastic pieces scattered on the carpet…waiting for my fingers to make sense of them. But, up until now, I’ve kept them shut up in the toy chest, gathering them up after 15 minutes, an hour of idle fiddling on a Sunday afternoon. Johnny’s super-duper lego-copter never helps. Why try when others, so much clearer of vision and blessed with a dedicated attent to the task, have already surpassed my best efforts?

Johnny did take the whirligig piece!

My inner-child is a bit of a whiner.

Nonetheless, I seem to be getting in the groove here. I don’t always write spectacular things. Some nights it is all I can do to push out my 300 words. I suspect that, on the worst nights, it must sound as if my inner-child is the writer…first grade vocabulary, pre-school mentality, who knows. I’m a little scared to look at some of my punchier musings.

But I’ve been writing. And, for the most part, I’m adding substance to my world. I participate in the 3 day novel contest every year. 2012 was my first experience hitting the honorable mention list. Twenty thousand words and a science fiction world was born. I’ve been working on it as part of the WOK 20K challenge. I had taken my original submission (in pieces and lightly edited) to my critique group over the past few months and, upon informing said group at our last meeting that we were only 4 pages from the end, I received puzzled looks and (in the words of one of my favorite teachers) an “invitation to reconsider.”

It was not unexpected. The novel had that niggling unfinished feeling about it but, juxtaposed against my own sense of satisfaction in the climactic moments of what I will now call Part I, I waffled. Critique groups are great at resolving such issues. Here I am, the author, teeter-tottering between “finished” and “not-finished” and here they come…en masse…like locusts or junior high school bullies…to settle the score. And, really, I meant that in a good way. Lol!

So, for the WOK 20K, I’ve been working on Part II picking up where the original 20K left off.

I’m switching perspectives. Anyone who is in the know about Baselines might guess whose eyes I have borrowed for Part II. And it’s growing. My world is growing. The only trouble is that I’m not sure I’m progressing the story. I know where it needs to go but I’ve trapped myself in the scenery. There are important pieces…but all of them need to be shuffled and the action moved forward. It’s exciting and frustrating and…I almost wish I had a 3 day deadline hanging over my head to keep me pounding, pounding, pounding till the words on the paper make sense.

Somehow 30 days seems too loose, an extravagance of time.

But I’m working on it.

Row80:  300+ words a day.  Yes.  Words are happening.  2 blogs a week.  Missed one since the start of this round.  Plan to make it up.  This week...I'm good.  July submission and novel rehab tasks are still on the "to do" list.  I have been researching publications though.
WOK Blog Challenge:  Apparently on hiatus till the fall.  But since I'm doing 2 blogs a week anyway...
WOK 20K:  6897/20K.  A little behind...and after this blog post too!  Bad Anna!
CampNano:  3267/25K  Does it help if I say I plan to work on this tomorrow?
Magic Spreadsheet:  24,453 words since June 2, 49 day chain, 1297 points, Level 2


  1. You are doing great! A very good friend of mine once said if you get stuck in a part of your book where you feel there's no action, find the worst possible thing you can do to the characters at that moment...and do it (within reason for the plot, of course). Before you know it, they'll be on the go again. :)

    Can you set a personal goal of X number of words by Wednesday? I do goals based on scenes so I'm not sure if that would help you feel more focused or not. Good luck this week!

  2. Anna,

    I understand what you're saying, here...I will be 44 years old in a week. I've been writing since I was seven.

    But, until about 40, I played at my writing in a dabbling way. I didn't take it seriously, because I cared more about other people seeing me as a writer, and the validation I could get from that, than I did about the actual crafting of the ideas in my head...

    I'm still playing at my writing - but now, it's centered and focused reveling, a delightful immersion and sharing out and communing with others who inspire and get it. And it is my work - the coolest,most amazing job (other than this unschooling mom gig, which is amazing!) I could have. I'ts the truest gift I have to offer.

    I urge you not to think of yourself as bad. If you are giving what you can each day while living your life, that is enough. If you are building worlds, that is valuable. If you are writing, with intent, that is wonderful!

    I have strong ebbs and flows of creativity. In the ebbs, I crave input, and I don't write much. I need ideas and experiences to churn up. Some of these will become story idea, given time.

    Be kind and patient to you. It's a lifelong marathon, not an all-or-nothing, do it all right now sprint....and, by treating you nicely, you can take all that energy you're using to dis yourself, and use it for writing, instead!

    For the story that seems to be wandering, you might enjoy Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Plot. I've been using it to plot two WIPs - and it gives just enough of that structure and moving forward you seem to be looking for.

    Deep breaths. You are not alone.