Thursday, May 06, 2010

Where I'm At

- News: President Obama chose Kalamazoo Central High School as the one US high school where he'll give a commencement address this year.  They won a video-essay contest.
- Speak Coffee journal giveaway: still open!

This is so where I'm at right now.  YA writer Natalie Whipple blogs that should she never get another idea for a novel/story she would have more than enough to keep her writing for the rest of her life (agreed).  She's restarting/rewriting a project (so am I), and it turns out she's a big fan of rewrites (I sure hope I am).

I start today on a novel that I've officially started twice before.  This time, however, I have an outline and a much better idea of who my characters are.  I hope to finish said novel draft within the month of May.  Which is crazy, but no more crazy than author Kiersten White completed her first novel.

On Kiersten's blog (Kiersten Writes) she posts on her "method" ... basically there is no method other than obsession. Getting the novel done  means becoming completely obsessed with the material.  I'm completely with her on this one (minus the writing while the kid is napping part).  My one completed novel manuscript (it's drivel but it's completed) came out of a January of obsession -- I remember nothing of that month but writing, coffee and overcast skies.  And wearing the same sweatshirt most days. Hmm.

But I'm worried about being able to complete a draft of this project. The first time I attempted it I had a fun idea but I didn't know where it was going or who my characters were, so it died at 20,000 words of manuscript. That's 20,000 words of place description and funny snips of dialog that had no place in the narrative and very little actual story.

The second time I attacked it I still didn't really know where I was going -- I'm a self declared pantser -- and I tried to edit the old scenes and then write the new ones.  I got bogged down by rereading the first attempt scenes.  I ended up spending my time editing not writing.  And then I got depressed at how poor my old writing was and further depressed by my lack of forward progress.

This time I don't intend to look at anything but my synopsis and outline as I write the new draft.

I know!  A synopsis!  An outline!  The self-declared pantser has an outline.  Have I gone over to the dark side and become a plotter?  I don't yet know.  Ask me in three weeks.

I used to love attempting the type of controlled chaos that Linda Grimes talks about on her blog Visiting Reality.  (BTW, I love her blog when she starts tell stories, like how she was accidentally recruited to run guns for the IRA).

Now is the perfect time to start (and finish) a manic novel writing dash because I'm free. Spring semester has ended and I don't teach in the summer nor am I taking class this month.  Sure, I'm playing big-bad-editor for the literary journal, and I'm getting ready for a six week stint in New England, and trying to recover my apartment from the tidal wave of chaos that washed in during finals ... but I'm free(ish).

My new mindset is wholly encompassed by this flow chart. I'm printing it out and taping it to the window behind my desk. No seriously, I'm taping it to the window. And if my neighbors start doing something stupid but entertaining I will have to lean to the side to watch around the flow chart taped to my window.

It's time to get the damnwriting done.  What's your method?  How do you get it done?

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