Writing Wednesday

I’ve been chipping away at Kiki – my first novel, which is a middle school pitched story about two girls who find out they have magical powers, accidentally go into Faerie and have to try and find their way back. Similar to books like Narnia or Alice in Wonderland. They meet lots of neat characters along the way and learn about themselves and each other, etc etc.

I’ve been feeling pleased with doing just a couple of pages a day but something neat happened on Saturday. I went along with Anna to her barbershop group practice and sat and wrote while they sang. I could have just stayed behind at her house, but I’d read this brief article about ambient noise boosting creativity.

I guess it inspired me to try it out. So I took my new wee windows tablet and it’s dinky bluetooth keyboard along with me, sat at the dining table and over the course of the three ish hours of singing, in between breaks for puzzle games, I got 15 pages of my book rewritten.

I’m pretty pleased with this progress.

Also I’ve found that coming home after a busy day at work I sometimes feel a bit brainless. In a lot of ways, feeling a bit brainless is the best frame of mind for me to concentrate on writing; there are no distractions, my brain is calm and open, I can just plunge into the story and focus clearly.

So my optimum writing times at the moment are when I’ve just woken up or when I’m feeling sort of tapped out. In fact I have been known to have a brief nap on the weekend and then wake up to do some writing – the sleep sweeps my mind clean.

Ambient sound is also a great one – I usually put on some calm quiet music like Leonard Cohen or Belle and Sebastian, but there are some amazing ambient noise websites purpose built for writers. This is my favourite: Soundrown because you can mix and match different sound genres (I seem to gravitate to some mix of birds, night and rain).

As of this evening I’m sitting at 77 of 136 pages rewritten, and feeling great about my progress.

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Writing

I came to the realisation that although it’s awesome that I’m so into working on Rain and giving her all my attention, I shouldn’t actually stop doing everything else writerly.

So I dedicated Tuesday afternoon to my ‘other projects’. This meant sending agent queries out for WtWTCH? Which took a wee while, because I adjusted the query for each agent and had to make sure I was including exactly the right thing for each.

Then I spent a fair chunk of time reworking the first three chapters of Kiki. It’s not quite at the stage where I want to send it out again but it’s getting close. I think one more hardcore session of editing and I’ll be ready to submit it again. I am again astounded at how much better my writing has got since I first wrote Kiki.

The manuscript slog portion of editing Rain is going really well. I have it set up on the dining table, which makes it really easy to dip into first thing in the morning or during my lunch break. Asking myself the questions constantly as I do it has proved to be really helpful.

Today after lunch with Sophie and a nap I got to page 45 on my MS slog. I am quite distractible today. I sort of intended to get more done but it didn’t work out. I might give it another go this evening. It’s such a pretty day though, and I my sleep’s been pretty broken given Lee’s ongoing migraine so I’m snoozy too.

Linky:

I really really loved Johnny B Truant’s article on how I’m not normal. It’s inspiring.

Lateral Action”s series of ways to work around creative block is quite good. I especially enjoyed Getting it wrong.

Author Intrusion and how to avoid it.

Writing

I didn’t get much writing done last week while I was on the Fijian island of Mana. Surprised? I’m surprised that I actually managed to open my laptop and do some editing while I was over there. It was awesome. I am slowly but surely whittling the first three chapters of Kiki into something more worthy of submitting to a publisher. It is a slow process though, because I’m not that convinced it’s worth it. On the other hand, what have I got to lose?

I have been typing up the kid’s book I wrote last May, but to be honest, I’m not that psyched about it. I will keep doing it, because it isn’t long and I think it’ll be good when I can properly re-edit it but my mind and my enthusiasm are elsewhere.

I’ll give you three guesses where my enthusiasm is now?

Well, if you guessed anything other than Rain, you should probably click the ‘Rain’ link in the tag cloud and have a read. I went into the print shop and got the Rain first draft in physical form, and it turns out that if I smile at the print shop guy he’ll give me student discount, even though I told him I am not a student. Nice.

I did this exercise in storytelling from storyfix, where you watch a movie and note in generic terms what each scene is about. I chose the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie as a similar genre movie to Rain, but given the difference in world building I’m not sure how helpful it will be. I am certainly keen to try writing something using the framework I’ve got noted down though, and it did give me a couple of ideas. (Consider having more cutaways to the love interest, for example.)
I would definitely recommend the exercise for cases of writer’s block, or general story-structure fuzziness though, as you do quickly get a sense of what is and isn’t necessary to tell a story.

I will keep it with me while I do my one pass revision on Rain. Which I am super-psyched about, and also kind of terrified of starting.

If you’re looking for more motivation I would recommend you read the morning before you didn’t write,from the ‘how not to write’ blog, which I suspect I should really read through because with all this holidaying I have somewhat lost motivation for my current projects. I must remind myself that I too am on the ‘work your ass off’ path.

Now, to go have a nap before working my ass off….

Checklist, where my writing is at

Novel number 1 – Kiki
(a children’s book about magic and another world.)

Malingering. I am determined to give the first three chapters another rewrite and then try submitting those to a publisher or two. If they say no I’ll chalk it up to first novel syndrome and backburn it for good. Feeling distanced from this project, almost disgusted with it.

Novel number 2 – What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
(Superhero chick-lit)

In the query letter stage. I’m trying it on American lit agents…Feeling hopeful, have confidence in the manuscript, although if I get one more rejection I will rewrite the first chapter, want to make it more awesome.

Novel number 3 – Amy/book club/not sure of the title
(Kid’s book with huge series potential.)

First draft written up longhand, waiting to be typed up and redrafted. I will do this once Rain is finished to get some mental distance. I have sufficient distance from this project now that I don’t really feel anything for it. Best time to redraft it!

Novel number 4 – Rain
(Young adult supernatural romance)

Currently demanding all my writing attention and writing itself. Rain is pushy, I get panicky if I don’t write ‘enough’ (which is two thousand words in a day now) and I’m looking forward to getting it finished. I want to write some other stuff! I’m also ridiculously pleased at how easy this first draft has been. I feel like one of those wanky Romantic poets describing themselves as a harp that the wind of inspiration blows through. I just sit down and write and I don’t have to think about it. Perfection.

Short Stories: Infection

Accepted for publication by Enamel magazine! All sorts of win.

Pestilence

I need to make a decision or two about this story and rewrite with those decisions made. Once that’s done, I’ll be able to start on the submission cycle with it again. I have a couple of likely possibilities lined up. Must find The Point of this story and make it punchy.

Famine

Needs another edit I think. I might stretch the time line out a bit, make things a little more dangerous for my protagonist, make sure the story has the impact I mean it to. Once that’s done I can start shopping it around.

To do:
Moar short stories!
– I wanna try another erotic story for Filament, there’s a few online magazines that are looking for spec fic, I should try some children’s short stories so I can shop those around.
Type up the Amy/book club book

Wednesday Writing

I got some immediate feedback from my Mother in Law about the new version of Kiki, which was all stuff that needed fixing and a suggestion that something that had been removed possibly needs to go back in there. While useful feedback, it kind of put a damper on my triumph that it’s finished, so I went through and edited it a bit more. I am going to wait for some more feedback before I decide whether or not thing that was removed needs to be replaced. Dan has the manuscript at the moment and I’m going to ask Lee as well, he is never shy about telling me the truth about my work.

Of course, my best news this week is that I am a published fiction author now. Yep, the second issue of Filament has been released and a short story by me is in there. I haven’t got my copy just yet, but my workmate has and she said my story was good. So, that’s a milestone reached.

This week I have been emo and restless and unable to be pleased. This has also made me unmotivated and whiney, so I haven’t done that much. I have however spent some time going through my short story Pestilence again, fixing up the grammar and cutting it down. If anyone has time to read this piece and give me some solid constructive feedback let me know and I’ll email it to you. It’s around 5,000 words, and pretty nasty horror as my writing goes.

I have been feeling quite discouraged this week. I am working through it.

Linky: Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors of America has a whole heap of good reading about how to write, how to find an agent (and avoid agency scams). Check out the For Writers section on the left hand menu.

Satisfying

I have now written the extra scene that I added to Kiki and I went through and made sure the chapter numbers made sense. It previously had 40 chapters plus a prologue plus an epilogue. Now it’s 34 chapters and an epilogue. Nice one. Deadwood gone! (Not the show, the extra stuff that didn’t need to be there.) Also the word count went from 60,280 to 56,315, which is not such a huge difference, because of the scene I added.

I feel that temptation to just keep editing again, but once more I shall stomp on it. I cannot continue to edit this thing forever, I shall send it out into the world. I have a cover letter mostly written, I have a publisher in mind, I just need to stick it on a memory stick and take it to a print shop. (I favour Reiger’s copy centre by the way. Just because it’s the only one I know of in Wellington. Except for Warehouse stationery and it’s closer than Warehouse stationery.)

I am feeling good about this version of the manuscript, and I feel a little like the King of the World because I got it done. I’m sure this feeling won’t last, so I’m going to enjoy it now. Aaaaah. Good feeling.

Next on the list once Kiki is in the mail again:

Query letters for WtWTCH? – send ’em out!
Read some short stories for children to get a feel for the genre peculiarities
Write some short stories for children (goal is to submit them to the school journal)
Polish WtWTCH? again based on feedback from Lee and Matt and Debbie
Get published
Live the dream: book tours, signings, TV spots, awards, etc.
Have character come alive and take revenge on me. Maybe not that one.

Writing Wednesday

Two things this week. First: I found another possible place that might publish my short story Infection and submitted it. Fingers crossed for me there, it’s a great little story and I’d love to see it in print.

Second: The massive, ruthless re-edit of Kiki is done! Or rather, it’s done except for the one scene I’m adding in but trying to figure out. It’s a classic folk tale kind of a dealy scene and it won’t take long to write.

What did I learn during this massive, ruthless re-edit? It’s really liberating to cut huge bits out of your novel. Reading through, deciding that a scene or a chapter or a character is adding nothing to the story and then deleting it? Awesome.

I also learned that my writing has improved rather a lot since I first wrote the Kiki manuscript, and this makes me very happy. It made it a bit annoying to go through because there was so much I wanted to change, but it was also awesome because yay! Skills are being learned!

I am psyched to get that one scene done and then I’m printing out this sucker and posting it to a publisher. I know I shouldn’t get my hopes too high, but I have a pretty good feeling about the manuscript with these changes and I have my eyes on the dream again.

Big, big, huge, amazingly grateful thanks to the editorial stylings and creative pointers of Matt and Debbie, who made me look at the story in a new way and (I suspect) have greatly improved the way some bits worked as a result.

To finish, check out this nifty article about theme which Dan pointed out on Twitter.