Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Writing Day 13

In light of the way I've spent my research and writing time this evening, this particular writing problem is quite apropos. Now, you may or may not be asking yourself, "What in the world has she been doing?" Well, either way, I am going to tell you. I have spent the evening researching a wide variety of accidental deaths and writing obituaries and flash pieces. For those who don't know what flash is, flash fiction is a super short story. They are typically 1,000 words or less (some people consider flash 300 words or less).

Yes, you read that correctly. I have been writing obituaries for a few hours tonight. I wonder how many people outside of the field of journalism can say that.

Since Verity and I came to an understanding over the weekend and put her part of the story on the back burner until later this week, I worked on telling some of the other stories in the book. Verity's story is not all hers after all. Half of the story is her journey to find the truth, and the other half is her telling the stories of those unfortunate souls who no longer have a voice of their own - which, by the way, is a necessary component to her finding the truth and shedding a light on the dark past of her hometown.

I'm excited at the prospect of digging out these stories. Especially because I have absolutely no idea where they are going to end up until I begin writing them. All of the deaths are elementally-linked, so I know going in where the ultimate end is coming from (earth, air, fire, or water); however, learning the where, when, and how comes along as I write for each person or incident. Much like Verity, I have no idea exactly what happened until I see it for  myself. Once the obits are complete, the characters determine where their story will go. They tell me, and I write them down.

While this is an energizing way to write, I certainly wouldn't want anyone (particularly if you are squeamish) to look at my recent image searches. :)

I've been working in the binder today, so I have no new stats to share at the moment. I will be transcribing tomorrow, so we will see just how much work I have managed to accomplish then.

Good Day and Good Writing to you all!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Writing Days 11/12

Okay, so what can I say about this weekend. . . well, I guess I would say "interesting" just about covers it. Did I get a lot of work done? Ummm. . . not really. Did I learn a lot. Yes, yes, I did.

I started out the weekend with high expectations. I was able to get so much writing done over the week that I just knew this weekend would be full of writing genius. I set everything up to work - as is my habit - black notebook, 2 blue ink pens, cigarettes, and Diet Coke, all laid out and ready to go. I sat in my favorite spot on the front porch, opened the notebook, and. . . nothin', absolutely no single thing came to mind. I knew where the story was going. Knew what needed to be said. Knew where my character needed to go next, what she needed to do, and what obstacles were to be laid in her path. Still nothing.

I began doodling around the edges of the paper and thinking about the story. I wrote a sentence, then another, then a paragraph. And the entire time, the voice in my head kept saying, Crap! This is crap! What are you doing?

I wrote a second paragraph, finished a page, then two. But, I still couldn't shake that voice. No, no, NO! This isn't right at all.

Now, before I continue, I feel it's necessary to mention that I do not actually have schizophrenia. However, I have been living with this story for much longer than I have actually been writing it. When you read interviews with writers, many talk about writing as a kind of itch in their brains, something that keeps them up at night. That sometimes a story demands so insistently to be told that it will wake them in the middle of the night and refuses to quit until they get the ideas down on paper. That has happened to me for as long as I can remember. I sleep with a notebook and pen beside my bed (have for years and years) just so I don't have to completely get up. Hoping that if I can write it down quickly enough, I may actually be able to just drift back off to sleep quickly. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

But I digress. This story, and perhaps more importantly this character (Verity), has been rattling around my subconscious and my journals since an early creative writing class I took back in the spring of 2009. That is a long time for someone else to occupy that very personal space. By the time I actually started the story in 2013, Verity had already been present for four years, creeping around the periphery and pushing for her story to be told. She has changed very little over the years, other than aging a bit (she began life as a teenager, but she now lives quite happily in her late thirties).

Struggling through those Saturday morning pages, the voice seemed familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. I took a break. Walked around the yard. Then, it hit me. Verity! And, man, she was not happy with me.

I went back and re-read what I had written. Verity was right. It was crap. At this point in the story, Verity is returning to her old home place for the first time in many years. All the family is gone and all that remains is her great-grandmother's old empty house. Besides being a pivotal piece of the story, this is an important moment for Verity - an exorcism of demons, in more ways  than one. I did not do it justice. I did not do her justice. And she let me know that quite plainly.

 I knew it wasn't right, but the words still refused to come. So, what did I do?

I stepped away. I played with my granddaughter. I watched Frozen three times in a row. I went grocery shopping. I cooked supper. I took a breath. Sunday, I watched movies with my daughter and paid a long overdue visit to an old friend. I thought about the story, dreamed about it even, but did not pick it back up.

Driving the dark tree-lined road to get back to town, I realized what needed to be done. A field trip is in order. I already have it planned for Wednesday - just me, Sis, and the camera.

Until then, what's on tap for the novel? Well, fortunately for me, while this is Verity's story, it is also about her telling the stories of others. So, while her story is going to go on hold for a moment, she is going to go ahead and tell the others' stories in the meantime.

She and I are both very happy with this arrangement.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Writing Day 10

It has been a very long day.

In the real world, I had to make not one, but two, trips to the license bureau which means I got to spend better than two hours sitting in  crowded room waiting for someone to call my number. To turn this experience into a positive, I used my time observing and making character notes in my phone.

In the writing world, I carved out a couple hours to write this afternoon. I also started a Facebook page to link to this blog. If you are so inclined, you can find it here. I spent about an hour transcribing my longhand writing to the digital copy of the novel, and I am happy to report that Chapter Five first draft is OFFICIALLY complete!

Hoping to find the time over the weekend to work on Chapter Six and maybe even Chapter Seven (fingers crossed).

But for today, I will leave you with this tidbit from Neil Gaiman (a personal hero of mine).

This may seem like common sense, but sometimes we must remind ourselves that while it may not always be easy, one word after another is what will get it done.

Good Day and Good Writing to you all!

Today's Stats - 

NIP - WTA - pages: 43; word count: 11,158

Friday, July 25, 2014

Writing Day 9

Today's entry is going to be a short one. It has been a very good day for writing today!

It was so nice outside, so I decided I would sit on the porch and work this morning. I didn't look up until my daughter walked out three hours later to make sure I was still living and breathing out there.

I used some time this evening to transcribe my longhand onto the laptop. And. . . drum roll, please. . .
I broke 10,000 words! This is OFFICIALLY the longest piece I have ever written!

I am excited (if you couldn't tell), and I am extremely tired. So, that is going to be all for my update today.

I will leave you with some wisdom from the world wide web:

I believe that this can apply to a great many goals we set for ourselves in life. Making excuses can become a habitually bad habit and failure a self-fulling prophecy. We have to concentrate on what is important to us as individuals and do what we can to make those things a reality.

Good day and Good Writing to you all!

Today's Stats - 

NIP - WTA - pages: 41; word count: 10,055 :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writing Days 7/8

Stuck. Stuck. Stuck. I absolutely hate knowing what I want to say and not being able to come up with the words to say it. It is one of the MOST frustrating things in the world to sit down to write and the words just refuse to come. 63 words was all I could manage to pull out of my stubborn self today.

On a positive note, I finished my grant proposal yesterday outlining a cross-curricular media literacy and production program for which I have been designing the curriculum for about a year now. The whole program is put together, I have found a funding source I believe would be perfect to pay for all the equipment purchases - now, of course, all I have to find is a school willing to give me a job with a faculty who are down for some major collaboration, and who will take a chance on the implementation of such a program. Ah, to dream the impossible dream.

Also, I am readying myself to send my children's book out into the great unknown. I am so in love with this book. I hope I can find it a good home somewhere.

As far as the novel goes, tomorrow is another day, dear Scarlet. Since I struggled with writing today, I did some minor revisions and made some expansion/clarification note on the manuscript to look during later revisions. I plan on getting up early and hitting it hard in the morning. Hopefully, I will be able to power through this block using pure unadulterated will power.

Good day and Good Writing!

Today's stats -

NIP - WTA - pages: 32; word count: 7813

Monday, July 21, 2014

Writing Day 6

Today has been both interesting and productive. I attended the last meeting of my writing class, and I was fortunate to have both an excellent instructor and a great group of peers with whom to work for the past eight weeks. My children's book is "in the can" so to speak, and I am ready to start sending out manuscripts later this week! Very excited about that!

On the novel front, I finished chapter 4 (transcribing all my longhand work onto Word and writing the concluding paragraph) and am ready to move on to chapter five tomorrow. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

The next chapter is a time period shift which is usually slower going than the present day stuff, but I am already kicking around some great ideas for this next section. So, my fingers are crossed that it will go at least somewhat smoothly.

On another topic, the deadline for my academic article, Poetry and the Common Core: The Great Non-debate, has passed, so I'm looking at receiving notification one way or the other in about 4-6 weeks. Again, keeping my fingers crossed the news will be good.

Plans for tomorrow (other than working on chapter five of the novel) are to finish a $5,000 educational grant proposal I have been working on for the past month. The grant is for the initial equipment funding for a cross-curricular media literacy and production program I have been developing for about six months. It is a project I am extremely passionate about, so the writing should go smoothly. All the statistical research, sustainability studies, and expansion potential worksheet is done. I just have to put it together and write it with enough appeal to convince the grantor to hand over that money. :)

All in all, it has been a GREAT day! (And I even managed to run a few errands and do a load of laundry.)

Today's writing inspiration comes from James Thurber - cartoonist, author, journalist, playwright, and celebrate wit. I chose it to remind me (especially going into this particularly tough chapter) that getting it written is more than half the battle. Revision is a necessary aspect of all writing, so it by no means has to be perfect the first time around. It just has to be written.

Good day and good writing to you all!

Novel stats for today -
NIP - WTA - pages: 33; word count: 7750

Writing Days 4/5

After the past two days, this bit of writing wisdom seemed most fitting. I would amend the 97% to also include being distracted by life in general.

The past two days have been filled to the brim with those everyday distractions that happen when you have kids to raise and a household to run. With the schools currently on summer break, I can't blame work for not being able to write; however, I can blame grocery shopping, house cleaning, laundry, running errands, being a mom taxi, cooking, and the ever present masters class homework.

Fortunately, this is my final week of summer term classes, then I will have a couple of weeks until school (both work and mine) starts up again. So, I will not have either of those things to use as an excuse.

Despite the internet and life in general, I have done some work over the past two days. I have put together a total of six solid publishing leads for my children's book and completed queries/cover letters for each one. So, I am ready to submit (ready or not).

I also wrote another five longhand pages for chapter four of the novel and roughed out chapter five. I have night class tomorrow, but my plans are to complete chapter four longhand tomorrow and attempt to get most (if not all) of it in Word at some point tomorrow. I have one more major assignment due this week, which I hope to get knocked out Tuesday. Then, WATCH OUT! I will be a writing fool for the rest of the week. :)

Novel Stats for Today -

NIP - WTA - No updates, still working with pen and paper. :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Writing Day Three

Today's writing inspiration from Mr. Clive Barker.

I have nothing to add. This says it all.

Well, on the writing front today, it was slow and steady with a break for creation of another kind. As I was falling asleep last night, I was struck with the idea of creating a book trailer for my work in progress. Ever since I first saw Ransom Riggs' trailer for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I have been utterly smitten with the idea of marketing written works through a variety of media. After a quick search on YouTube, I discovered that book trailers have become quite commonplace in the world of publishing. Of course, many of these (including Riggs') are slickly packaged mini-movies in their own right. For a newbie to the world of video production, I used MovieMaker and Audacity (both free programs). I taught myself to use MovieMaker for a class in Educational Technology that I took earlier this year, and did my best to teach myself to use Audacity this morning in the wee hours before the sun came up (see people, insomnia is good for something).

So, with no further ado, here is my maiden voyage into book trailer creation.

Now for the day's writing stuff. I did not progress a lot on the digital manuscript - adding a scant 76 words. I did, however, work longhand today - completing 4 1/2 pages. After working on the trailer, I was just digitally done for the day. 

Plans for tomorrow include working out some more longhand (the weather here is supposed to be bee-you-ti-ful tomorrow). If everything goes according to plan, I should be able to finish Chapter 4 and be well into roughing out Chapter 5 tomorrow. I also have to make time to complete the query and finish the publisher's search for my Children's Book - I have a quickly approaching deadline to meet.

Good day and good writing to you all!

Today's Novel Stats - 

No stats for today because the majority of my work was done the old-fashioned way. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Writing Day Two

Today's bit of writing wisdom comes from Jodi Picoult - a writer I greatly admire.

I think it is important to remember as a writer that an idea written on paper - or the keyboard - has not been carved in stone. Anything can be changed or manipulated, but only if it has been written in the first place.

Today was a productive day on the writing front. Although I didn't quite finish the section I have been working on the past two days, I did add 1000+ words to my manuscript. I also finished indexing the remainder of my notes and completed basic outlines for the entire novel (all 36 chapters of it). I also completed another round of historical research and finalized the founding genealogy for my town.

On the publishing front, I uncovered three solid leads for the children's book and two publications for the shorts.

Tentative plans for tomorrow include working on the novel, creating a query for the children's book, and searching for at least three more publishing leads for the children's book.

Ending the day with a positive feeling today.

Today's Novel Stats -

NIP - WTA - pages: 29; word count: 6772

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Writing Day One

Today has been a good writing day. I pulled out one of my novels I haven't looked at in quite some time. I was re-energized reading through the work.

I worked through a ton of long-hand notes, typed nine new pages, revised and reworked several sections, and began another set of outlines for the next two sections. Overall, I'm feeling good about today's progress.

On tap for tomorrow, finishing outlines, finishing the section I began today, and researching publishers for the children's book I finished last week and some of the shorts I haven't submitted in awhile (after I look them over again, of course).

Today's nugget of inspiration:

 After my work today, I feel saner than I've felt in a long time. I do believe Kafka was on to something. ;)

Today's stats -

NIP: WTA - pages: 25 word count: 5683

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welcome to The First Day of the Rest of My Life

My entire life people have been telling me I should be a writer. Every year I ask my students to consider the question: Who am I? When I think about this same question, my response always involves "I am a writer" somewhere in the equation. If I am having a good day, it ends up closer to the top. If not, somewhere nearer the bottom. I "joke" consistently that all passionate English teachers are secretly harboring the desire to be writers. I talk about my novels-in-process. I use my personal writing as examples and mentor texts for my students as do many of my previous professors.

I know in the pit of my soul and with the entirety of my being - I am a writer.

I write short stories and flash fiction and academic articles and literary analysis and really, really long unit plans. I write poetry for my kids and all sorts of essays and half-finished novels.

And so far. . .

I am, as yet, unpublished. I have temporarily given up on submissions due to rejections (they have a tendency to make one question the worth of one's work). I do not spend the time or energy I know I should writing.

I recently completed a class on writing children's books, a genre completely foreign to me, and it has given me a new insight on what I need to do - JUST WRITE ALREADY!

With that thought squarely in mind, I have decided to start this blog. It is for me more than anyone else. A way to hold myself accountable for my tendency toward procrastination. 

I finally understand that rejection is just part of the process. The majority of my work can not be neatly pigeon-holed into a specific genre or niche - perhaps it would be easier if that were the case. But what I do know is this, my writing is true to who I am. It tells the story I want to tell in the way that I want to tell it. With perseverance, I will find a home and an audience for my work. I will finish the novels I have been playing around with for soooooooo long.

My pledge to myself is this: I will use this platform to document my writing journey. I will make time to write. I will begin to submit again. I will WRITE with the understanding that everything will not be great all the time, that I will have good days and bad, that not every person who reads what I write will "get it" (some people will even think it is worthless trash), and that this terrible/awful/wonderful journey will be a long one.

So, if you have stumbled upon this blog and wish to tag along or comment or even commiserate, welcome. Welcome to the first day of the rest of my life.