Friday, May 29, 2009

In a mood to malinger

As anticipated, no writing happened on Tuesday, but I'd written enough on Monday to make up for it. Wednesday I hit my goal, but Thursday I fell short again. I managed to spit out not quite 300 words, but life got in the way for most of the day. The scene I was working on is the one where my two main characters first meet each other, and they both abruptly clammed up and had NOTHING to say. I sat them both down and got to know them better Thursday evening, and then tried again today after the guys cleared out for Wisconsin. I'm just a couple hundred words short of catching up from yesterday, and then I should be able to catch up on today's goal over the weekend.

After a last-minute trip for new tires on the truck and a spurt of packing the last few things they needed, the hubby and the boys left for their annual fishing trip late this morning. I was utterly unable to accomplish any writing while they were still home, because I was in one of those moods where I just can't stand the idea of sitting down and just getting into a rhythm and then being interrupted. So I let it slide. A nap tried to claim me this afternoon, but I managed to evade it.

Sneaky, dastardly naps.

Monday, May 25, 2009

School daze

I finished planning and pre-writing work on my second inspirational romance last week, took a couple of days to just unwind and read for fun, and started in on first draft today. I got a solid 1,900 words done, which took me almost to the end of the first scene. I'd like to wrap up the scene later today, with another 400-500 words. My goal is 1,200 words a day, five days a week, but tomorrow will likely be taken up with other activities, and I prefer to do my makeup writing ahead of time rather than after. Still, I'm pretty satisfied with the day's work.

Some of the world-building and plot threads of Crowmaker have begun rising to the surface and unraveling themselves lately. Depending on how my available writing time shakes out over the summer, I may do some work on it off and on, too. Or maybe I'll just let it continue to open up in my mind. The world and its people have begun to feel real to me, and I'm less in the frantic "OMG, must write it down before I forget!" frame of mind. So I feel less driven and more simply bemused by that project. I feel like it's there and it's not going away, so although I enjoy rolling the shape of it around in my mind, I'm not going to lose it if I don't drop what I'm doing rightthisverysecond and try to capture it. I also feel like I'm growing to understand even more about my craft as I work on the inspirational romances, so that what I'm learning from those can only make any other novel I write even stronger.

This will be the last week of the school year for the boys. After our weekly grocery shopping tomorrow morning, I will be chaperoning a fifth grade field trip to a farm and pond. After it rained last night and most of today. And there's a chance of storms tomorrow. It could become very interesting. Tomorrow evening is the 8th grade graduation, for which the 7th grade traditionally prepares and works the reception. I'll be over there most of the evening to help out. So tomorrow as a writing day isn't looking likely. Wed. should be a good catch-up day, but Thursday is a half day and the last day, and we have a couple of extra kids coming home with us followed by a vet appointment later in the afternoon. Possibly some writing can happen that day, but it will have to happen in random pockets of found time.

Friday, the guys pack up and leave on their annual fishing trip with the hubby's brothers and their sons. Much quiet will ensue. Hopefully, much writing will also ensue, but there might have to be some naps, too.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The hardest part is beginning

After finishing the inspirational romance and getting it in the mail, I indulged in some slacking to refresh my tired brain. I also caught up on some reading, however, so even the slacker days had some productivity. Someone asked last night what I was working on now, and I asked myself that same question over the last couple of weeks--what now? Because just waiting to hear back on a finished story is never the right answer. First of all, on the off chance they do like the story, they'll eventually want to know if I have another. And I'll want to have another to send to them while the iron is hot, even if they don't ask. And probably more importantly, waiting can drive you crazy. Better to find a new project to throw myself into.

I'm in a place right now where I've tapped into some well of "yes, this is where I need to be" regarding the inspirational romances. I don't know that it's the romance part that draws me, so much as the inspirational part. And I do think that at some level, my attraction to them is at a craftsman's level. These are shorter than your big epic fantasy novels. The situations are more simple and straightforward. The plotting is more linear. This allows me to really see how everything works together and learn how to make it work for me, too. Prior to writing the first romance, I spent some time reading published samples to see what made them tick. I've since gone even further and completely deconstructed a sample in an attempt to see how each piece is constructed and how they all fit together. I feel like I've learned a great deal that I can apply to a next romance, and that's what I started on this weekend--planning a second inspirational romance. Part of me itches to be working on other stories, Crowmaker especially. But I don't so much feel that I've turned aside onto a different path, as that I've been trying to leap across a chasm, and I've just found a previously-obscured path that leads to the promised land on the far side. This path may take me a longer, windier way than the big leap, but the likelihood of making it in one piece is greater. Everything I write, no matter the genre or form or eventual state of publication (or non-publication), is a learning experience. The process of writing a story teaches me something new every time, and it informs the next story I write.

So, yeah. I feel much more settled than I have in a long time. I haven't been soaring with white-hot inspiration and then diving into doing no work at all for days at a time. I find I'm able to keep a steady pace and figure out how to move ahead when I get stuck. One step at a time. One day at a time.

In other news, school is out for the summer in less than two weeks. I am so looking forward to the break. My daytime writing hours may shrink in number, but I've learned how to be more productive in less time, too. And I've had some success in acclimating myself to writing in the evenings, so I may be able to simply juggle my hours around instead of giving some up. We'll see. Even if not, it'll be nice to have a break from fundraiser requests and subbing at school.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Something magic out of something frightening

The Steeple Hill project has been tucked into its mailer and handed over to the post office. At this point, I have mixed feelings about it. Gut instinct says it's a solid story, although I'm sure it could have been stronger in some areas. There are scenes I think I nailed, and others that I can only hope are well-crafted enough for the editor to see the promise of a salable story.

And, after 4 days of 8+ hours a day spent on line editing, I'm still hearing the voice of my inner grammar and style critic every time I so much as glance at a written word. Time to unwind! Maybe a nap...

Hugs and hearts to all my amazing friends. Even though you only caught glimpses of me this week, you crammed tons of support and encouragement into that handful of minutes.

Love you guys!

Monday, May 4, 2009

With a little perseverance you can get things done

With an estimated turnaround time of 3 months on queries to Steeple Hill, I should have plenty of time to finish the rewrite this week and then let the ms cool a week or two before a final polishing read-through.
(quoting silly me from a couple weeks ago)

So. Mailed the query letter April 24. Finished the rewrite on May 1 and set the ms aside to cool for a couple of weeks before a final once-over and waiting out the remainder of the 3 months turnaround time.

Got a letter requesting the full ms today. (It was dated April 29. Good God, these people must be really on top of things.)

Brief elation dance, followed by brief panic dance, followed by settling down to start that final once-over um, today.

Apparently, I DO know how to write a decent query letter, after all. Now let's see if I wrote a decent novel.

If you need me, I'll be chained to my desk with a supply of red pens and a stack of ms. Crossed fingers, good vibes, and/or prayers are always welcome.