Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March mini-NaNo, the conclusion!

Youch, Wednesday again! I'll tell you right now: if you finished your zero draft, you can have my cupcake, because I did not! Arg! So many things have come up in the past couple of weeks, the most recent of which is that Jim is sick (poor sweetie!) so I have Clementine right now instead of it being my work time, which means: quick blog post!

If you met your goal, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!!!

I really really hope a fair number of you made great progress on your goals this month! I did so-so, but am REALLY READY to recommit and keep moving forward. However, I have to wait until mid-April to really get working again, because I have a number of other things to check off my list first, like finishing up workshop prep for the plotting workshop I'm giving at the SCBWI Western Washington conference (are you coming? You should come!) the weekend after this, not to mention the keynote I will also be delivering (my first keynote!). Sooooooo, without further ado, here's Mr. Linky. Sign in and give a quick status report. In comments, please share your ongoing plans. I loved seeing your progress this month!

Now, for inspiration, HERE is a video that Stephanie mentioned in comments last week (for some reason I couldn't find an embed code). It's great. I want to have that attitude about writing -- wouldn't it be marvelous?

Also, randomly, I came across these ingenious ways of solving one of the world's enduring dilemmas. I'm sure you've faced it, maybe you cope with it every day. ha ha. It is: how to carry your cookies and coffee at the same time??? Never fear. Ingenious minds are on the job! The solution might be the mug (cookie slot included), or it might be cookie cutters!


Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Art Prints Available!!!

All that painting I've been doing in the wee hours of the night, well, here is the result, a new look for Laini's Ladies, which after five years in the marketplace I thought were ready for an overhaul (though the traditional LL line will remain). The basic idea is the same -- ladies with quotes -- but the look is quite different. They involve a lot more paint and actual hand-making and less digital. Fun! Here are four, and I'm not sure right now what direction they will go in as far as development into a manufactured line (that is under discussion), but I am making them available in MY NEW ETSY SHOP as 11x14 prints!

Here they are:
The quote reads: "I am so happy, I cannot be contained in the world. I have blossomed so much, I am the envy of gardens." - Rumi
Quote reads: "Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you." - Hafiz (And on her palm is the tiny greeting, "Hi!."

Obviously "happy" is a big theme for me right now. I can't help it. I'm all about the happy. I just love the word "happy." (Jim proposed it as a baby name, and though I did have a good friend in college named Happy Hawkes, and I do think it is an adorable name, I wasn't sold on it.)
Quote reads: "Those who never risk themselves never fully become themselves." - Alexandra Saperstein

Quote reads: Alis volat propriis -- She flies with her own wings." (which happens to be the Oregon state motto, how cool is that? I do love my state :-) Note, in the above image -- doh! -- the Latin is misspelled, but will quickly be remedied! Never fear.

So there they are, my recent late-night art experiments! If you're interested in having one (or more), they are up on MY NEW ETSY SHOP.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March mini-NaNo, one week to go!

Oh coffee, oh my coffee, oh I am so tired. Very little sleep had last night. It's not Clementine's fault entirely. I do keep staying up to the wee hours painting, knowing full well a certain baby has no intention of sleeping in in the morning. But I must have those wee hours if I'm going to get anything done. But then I'm a zombie in the morning. A zombie with coffee breath (which, I suppose, is better than a zombie with brain-breath, which is the usual flavor of zombie breath, right?)

So, how did it go this week, writers??? We only have one week left, but I'm telling you right now that I, at least, will be rolling this over into April, and probably into May as well. (And June, July, etc etc.) Join me if you will. My week was decent. Words were written, progress made. It was also a week full of distraction and other pressing work, and it could have been more inspired, but that's how it goes. I suppose painting leeched off some of my writing inspiration, proving that there is only a finite amount of creative energy in any given day. No, actually, I don't think that is true. How much creative energy is there in a day? For me it depends on how the work is going. If it's going well, the energy is infinite. Like Salman Rushdie's Haroun & the Sea of Stories, it is like opening a faucet that connects to an ocean. It'll just keep coming and coming. But if the work falters, if the work dares to suck, then the energy wanes. What is finite though is TIME.

Tell me how you're doing. It's such a great motivator to know you're plugging away too!

Here's this week's Mr. Linky. Let's all set reasonable but ambitious goals for this week, and really kick our butts to meet them. Yes? Determine a reward for yourself in advance. Hm. What's my reward going to be if I meet my goal? Cupcake? Day off for a hike in the Gorge? (gee, which one of those is healthier?) How about bringing cupcakes on a hike in the Gorge? Yeah, that sounds great! Okay, that's my self-bribe. You?

Now, for inspiration this week, some quotes from the great Ray Bradbury:

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what your write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for."

"You fail only if you stop writing."

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality can not destroy you."

and one from Rumi:

"Come, come, whoever you are.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times.
Come. Come again. Come."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Theirs was a forbidden love . . .

Clementine has a lot of toys, a plethora of teething rings, a population of dolls, etc etc. She has teethers made in France that are scented with vanilla. She has hand-made wooden toys from Germany. She received a doll from the Netherlands yesterday, with the word "lief" (love) embroidered on it (thank you, Auntie Lori!) She has a lot of neat stuff. Can you guess what it is she wants to chew on? Hm? Can you? You can probably guess where I'm going with this.











Nothing can quite compare to the metal clip end of her pacifier leash. Yep. The metal clip that is supposed to attach to her clothes somewhere so her toys don't fall on the floor. Yeah. The metal clip is her favorite thing. Followed closely by . . . can you guess? The tag on any toy or blanket. Tags are awesome. Oh, and crinkly waterproof bibs? Endlessly amusing. It's hilarious that we spend all this money on fancy toys, when really, the simplest things are the most coveted.

Oh, and did I mention, she's got two new teeth?
Ha ha ha! I love the way those big yellow beads look like teeth. I've gotten much enjoyment out of that sight :-)

Yesterday I had a major case of mom-endorphins. I was just so happy I was almost giddy. It may have had something to do with the sunshine and warmth, in combination with a healthy dose of this:
It was a beautiful day here in Portland (alas, today the rain is back), the warmest of the year so far, I think it was into the 70s. Clementine and I went over to Alberta St and walked around, and it was bustling with folks and dogs and friendly eccentrics on weird bikes, as usual, and we sat at an outdoor table where I drank iced coffee and Clementine reclined on my lap like a little queen and watched the world and smiled at passersby. It was warm enough for bare toes, even, such a treat, and it was just So. Nice. I got kind of blissed out. She nursed and fell asleep in my lap and there's just nothing like cuddling a sun-warmed, sleeping baby. When we got back to the car, I didn't want to surrender her to her car seat so I just sat there for a while, nuzzling her fuzzy little noggin. I'd barely gotten any sleep the night before (another crazy painting night), but I wasn't tired. Just happy.

Lovely lovely.

What brought us to Alberta was to buy a gift certificate at Bolt, the darling fabric store. I walked in, C. in her Ergo, drooled over the Anna Maria Horner fabrics, and announced to the clerk, "I'm here for a gift certificate, but I am dying to learn how to sew." Which I am. Have been forever. It's one of those things I say wistfully All. The. Time. "I need to learn how to sew." Well. It turns out I'd come to the right place! Affiliated with Bolt, a new sewing studio just opened on Alberta, Modern Domestic, and it's a darling little storefront with brand-new sewing machine stations where they teach classes and have free sewing time with "sewists" on hand to help you. (How much better is the term sewist than "sewer" by the way? So much better!) Anyway: AWESOME! Well, they had a basic class TODAY. Starting 5 minutes from now, in fact. And I really really wanted to do it. Around midnight last night I was still trying to decide, and I realized that it was LUDICROUS to even consider it. I am so swamped right now! What was I thinking???? Taking on a new craft/hobby right NOW??? Total insanity. So here I am, at home, safe from new hobbies for another day. It's just, eesh, there is so much to do and I want to do it ALL!!

I want to have a rich life with my family and friends, write my books, paint my pictures, spend glorious quality time *doing nothing with particular enthusiasm*, travel, knit, sew, cook, exercise, hike, and have a lovely garden to play in. And it just isn't really all possible. Today, after yesterday's endorphin rush, I'm feeling a little bit glum about that. I want want want want want. I'm greedy for life, for everything, all the different lives I could be having -- but all of them at once, without having to choose. But choices must be made, and it hurts.

Blogs kind of make it worse, because I surf around and there are blogs for all the lives I'm not living -- travel, cooking, craft, photography, lovely lifestyle, garden, etc etc. And I want to somehow be able to do/be/have ALL of it.


I'm feeling very wanty today. Sigh. More to say on the subject but -- shockingly!! -- no time just now to say it. Cheers. Happy Sunday :-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March mini-NaNo, half way! + Thoughts on Zero Drafts

What? It's Wednesday again? How did that happen . . . *looks around distractedly*. Seriously. HOW? Ah well. Another week of life has flown by, with me groping ineffectually after its tail feathers as it passed. This week LEFT ME BEHIND. You know how some weeks you climb onto and ride like . . . an ostrich, or a unicycle? They carry you along, wind in your hair, and you reach the new week like it's a bus stop (ostrich stop, unicycle stop) and you're perfectly on time, impeccable in your crocheted Barbie traveling suit?
And other weeks roar right past you like those stupid redneck ATVs, spewing sand in your face, and you flail blindly and tumble down a sand dune and lay moaning at the bottom, while seagulls peck at you to see if you're delicious? Yeah. Well. You can probably guess what kind of week I've had! (And yes, thank you, I have it on good seagull authority that I am delicious.)

And NO, I did NOT meet my goal. I can't believe you asked. Sheesh. That's so mean. Just rub it in why don't you. Here, here's the salt shaker. Throw some salt in there while you're at it. And I suppose you are sitting smugly atop a mountain of pages, licking an ice cream cone with just the very tip of your tongue, gloating? Well, goody for you. Goody.. This is for you:

Ha ha. Sorry. I am REALLLLLLLLY happy for you! Really. No. Really. I am. I genuinely hope you all had splendid writing weeks. The fact is, I did have a highly productive creative week, but my energies were channeled into the unexpected art burst that I mentioned in my last post. It's Laini's Ladies related and it's important -- a whole new look for Laini's Ladies, about which I am really really excited, the kind of excited that makes you NOT GET TIRED, not even at 2 am. I've been up painting, listening to books on tape, and have to make myself go to bed. It's kind of wonderful! I did get some writing done too, but not as much as I wanted, and not every day, which is stupid, because when you skip a day or two, you know what happens. You lose your momentum, forget where you were, and have to go rereading stuff to catch up, which takes away precious time for actual writing. Plus, when you're writing a fast draft, you don't really want to reread that stuff, because its awfulness is painful. It makes me wince. I read it like this:
(That's not really me.)

So. Without further ado, let's have a sign-in for next week. In the comments, tell how you did and what you're planning to keep yourself inspired this coming week.

For my part, I need to get back on the ostrich.
My goal? Hm. How about . . . 6000 words? And writing every morning, so I don't lose my place. That's my commitment.

And now, some thoughts on . . . the Zero Draft:

I think the first place I ever heard the term "zero draft" was in the Terry Pratchett interview in The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Fantasy Writers, by Leonard S. Marcus. To the question, "Do you revise your work?", Pratchett answered:

"My work goes through five drafts. Draft Zero is something I would never show anyone! Draft One is me telling the story to myself once I think I know how it goes. Draft Two is me telling the story to my editor. Draft Three is what we end up with. And Draft Four is what I call sanding and polishing--when the spell-checker comes into play and I'm working on the fine detail of a sentence."

And I liked it, the idea of a draft so raw it doesn't even get a number (Okay, nerds, fine, so zero is a number. Whatever.), it isn't even really considered a draft. It's certainly nothing you'd ever show anyone. I mean, look, Pratchett's first draft is still only for himself; it's not until the second that he shows somebody. The zero draft is a primitive, inchoate* thing, the shadowy silhouette of a beast that has not yet fully come into being. It is a Frankenstein creation still lying on its slab, not yet animated by the spark of life. It is somewhat monstrous, and that's okay. It is supposed to be.

I wrote recently how I'd heard one writer's process was to write a draft and then delete it and start over, and how appalling this was to me, but now I get it. This deleted thing was perhaps a zero draft, a monstrosity. To read it would probably be painful, but the writing of it was necessary to begin to bring it to life, to get it to gel in your head so you could begin to write a first draft.

The beginning of my current book, the first third to half of it, is not a zero draft, but is in various states of polish and persnicketiness. The problem there is that when I shift an idea even slightly, which I am constantly doing, it requires rewriting, much much rewriting, and the more I love the writing of a particular scene, the more I will try to preserve certain lovely phrases, carry them over into the new version. And this takes FOREVER. It's the most painstaking kind of surgery, like transplanting eyelashes onto your Frankenstein. Have you had the experience where you're doing something that requires keeping your hand steady for long periods of time and your hand is just fed up, it just wants to go a little crazy, flap around, clench and unclench, do jazz hands? That's what happens to my mind after a while too. I've known for a long time that the idea of a zero draft makes total sense, but I haven't been so able to DO it, at least not in a long novel. But I am trying it now, and I shudder at its Frankenstein-ness, but still, there are *snicks* every single day, where I figure something out and realize that I have made a breakthrough that will not require any ridiculous eyelash transplant surgery because I had not yet devoted time to fine-tuning something that was not ready for fine-tuning. It's such a relief.

So, are you doing a zero draft? How's it feel? Happy writing, everyone. Happy week!

*(I love the word "inchoate" and am forever trying to find places to use it :-) It dates back to my high school reading of D.H. Lawrence, and having to look the word up, and even then not being sure I quite had a hold of it. It was like trying to hold a fish. Do I know what this word means? I think I do ... no wait, it just escaped! Quick, catch the inchoate before it flops back into the lake! A hallmark of my young writing is over-the-top vocabulary. I spoke that way too, kind of like Oscar Wao. Nerd that I was. And am.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Right there waiting for me

I've been slowly easing back into painting over the last several months. It had been a while; it had come to feel very distant. The caps of my oil paint tubes, I imagined, were crusted shut -- an apt symbol for my soul as a painter.

The thing is, though I do art for part of my living, I haven't found I'm able to put the time into both art and writing that I would like. They're both full-time jobs. So though I have continued to create new Laini's Ladies lines several times a year, that has pretty much been the extent of my art-making. I haven't felt inspired; I haven't played, pushed paint around just for the joy of it. I haven't tried new things. Art has begun to feel like "the path not taken," and I find myself wondering where I might be as an artist if I was able to put more energy into it. I don't know the answer to that, but this past week I've found myself possessed by this mad spirit of painting. Man. I've been up until at least 2 every night, one night even 3:30. I don't get tired (until morning, when Clementine wakes up at 6!) I've done a couple of things that I LOVE SO MUCH. I can't wait to show you. But I will wait, a little while longer. I will however give you a peek of my new etsy shop, which is still empty, but you can see in the banner a smidge of the piece that I love.

I'd been just using low-grade craft acrylics, the cheap kind from Michael's, in my recent sketchbook dabblings, and having plenty of fun with those. But there was something -- a face -- I wanted to paint with more control, so I pawed through the oil paint basket to see what was happening in there. It's a three-tiered hanging produce basket, you know, the kind you mostly see in kitchens? And it's full of dusty tubes of paint that haven't been touched in . . . a few years? Turns out, most of the caps open just fine, and there was a new small-size can of odorless turp on the shelf, and an unopened tiny bottle of Galkyd (quick-drying medium), and that is all I needed, and so I painted, and oh my god, oil paint is such a wonderful substance. It is so smooth and buttery and magnificent. I felt like I had never stopped; the paints were right there waiting for me, all this time. Why did I stop? I don't know. Paths not taken. How many paths not taken do each of us have?

Well, it's after 2 am for the fourth night in a row, and I'm going to hit they hay for a few hours of sleep before my adorable alarm clock starts to coo and gurgle :-) In the meantime, a short Clementine video. She's something of a musical instrument, as you will see. She (and we) find it very entertaining when you strum her lip, and you have only to put a finger to her mouth for her to obligingly make a sound so that it can go all . . . strummy. (I don't think I'd know a good word for this even if it wasn't 2 am, but as it is, well, you know what I mean.) Cheers!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March mini-NaNo, one week down, three to go

[First, some exciting news! The Dreamdark books have sold Turkish rights!!!! Yeeeeeeee!!!! I love Turkey, really really love it. Jim and I went there the summer he asked me to marry him (though the actual proposal came later, in Italy), nearly ten years ago now, and it is the most beautiful shimmering fantastical country -- the minarets and markets, the carpets, the apple tea! We slept in a fairy chimney scooped right out of limestone, for goodness sake. Turkey is magical, and now Dreamdark will exist in Turkish. That is cool beyond words. German, Portuguese, and now Turkish. Yay, Dreamdark! And speaking of translation, the Italian translator of Lips Touch has been in contact. So exciting knowing that is happening now. I am such a nerd for foreign editions. I can't WAIT to see and hold all these and dorkily pretend to read them :-) (Well, the Italian at least I'll be able to pronounce correctly!)]

Okay. Now on to March mini-NaNo! I'm curious how many of the 25 people who signed up last Wednesday will reappear today to check in. Most, I hope. I hope good writing weeks have been had for all! I know life has a way of intruding on well-laid writing plans, oh how I know. But it feels so good to attain a string of goals, one after another. And having a draft of a book at the end of it? Nothing like it. Marvelous.

So, sign into Mr. Linky to recommit for next week's small goal:

I had a pretty good week, and am looking forward to another one. It feels so good to move through the territory of the story. I'd been dwelling in one region of it for far too long, tidying. That starts to get crazy-making after a while. It makes one long for adventure. Sometimes the impetus to move forward in storytelling (in spite of my fears and perfectionism) is best provided by getting utterly fed up with my inertia. It reminds me of this Anais Nin quote:

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

Sometimes that's what it's like. The frustration finally overrides the fear and you find yourself -- your usually meek little tidy self -- feeling unruly and restless. Like a monsoon in a box, and all you want to do is knock off the stupid lid and be free and be wild! For those of you who share my particular writing malaise (perfectionism), I have this to say: you only get to that point by relentless butt-in-chair. If you're not actually forcing yourself to sit down to the story and labor with the words, the frustration won't reach the tipping point. Your inner monsoon will not boil over, but will only simmer mildly in the background of your mind.

It may not be the sanest way to write, but sometimes you take what you can get.

So, goals for this week? It's not too late to join in! Someone asked how to sign up? Just jump right into Mr. Linky there and put in a goal for the coming week. Mine is 10,000 words and tackling a particular important part of the story that I'm both excited by and terrified of. And away I go to confront it ...

But wait! One last thing! Are you a Hunger Games fan? Let me go one step further: are you Team Peeta or Team Gale? If, like me, you are the latter, go HERE and vote for Gale! If, like Jim, you are Team Peeta, don't go vote, because Peeta is winning. Come on, people. Gale is obviously Katniss's soulmate! Eesh. He might not be as cuddly as Peeta, but he's hot.

And one last last thing, via Huffington Post:

tee hee.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

1st Small Goat

Hey all March NaNo'ers! Our first small *goat* is almost upon us. How goes it? Tomorrow it'll be time (already!) for another Mr. Linky box, where we can check in with our first small goal and forge forward toward the next one. I hope you're all writing writing writing!!!

I've had some very good days here and some days that were fun (sunshine!!!) but not productive, and yet another day that was productive, but for art (new Laini's Ladies!), not writing. Still, I am going to make my goal tomorrow and I've had a few mornings writing where that best of all possible things happens, where ... you know ... things happen. I've heard it referred to as the magic that occurs between your fingers and the keys of your keyboard, when story appears as if from nowhere and things happen. Marvelous! I am having FUN with my w.i.p. and the story is revealing itself and moving forward, and that is excellent. It's veryvery rough, but whenever I can work rough, I feel proud of myself for keeping my mental illness perfectionism in check. Yay, me!

Need a 20-minute creative inspiration break? Stephanie sent me this link to a T.E.D. talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, and it's really fun. A "sane" way of looking at creativity.

Cheers! Now: back to writing! (You can stop to pet the goat, but only for a minute :-)

P.S. Clementine is 7 months old today. Wow! 7 months!!

Friday, March 05, 2010

March Mini-NaNo Club, thoughts for Friday

Hi all! Well, Clementine has decided that 6 am is a nice time to wake up and play. It could be worse, certainly.
Here she is, in all her dawn glee, wrapped up in the bed sheet :-) Hopefully we'll get a nap later, but for now, this is just a brief check-in before I get to work on my w.i.p.!

First, for fun, a picture of a serious writer at work, and not just any writer, but the best-sellingest writer in history:
Take it from Agatha: have some dignity while you write! No slumping around in your pajamas, woman! (Just kidding. I'm wearing pink fuzzy slippers right now that match my hair. Most emphatically not wearing a tweed suit.)

Also for fun, this pulled from a slide show I did on, appropriately enough, finishing your novel.
Since we're all setting goals for next week, this is perfect! If you're wondering about the image, the explanation is this: I had the slide show all finished and ready to go (I thought), but luckily I proofed it one last time, because I discovered that this slide (sans image), actually read: Set small goats and meet them. Oops! So here's a small goat I would like to meet. If you're wondering, it's a Kashmir goat. I had not ever thought about where cashmere came from, but there it is: these goats spin it from their butts like spidersilk. Okay, not really, but it does come from these goats!

Also, yesterday the Comic-Con/Wondercon newsletter came in the mail, with a section on writer's advice. I bring you two different approaches. First, from the wildly imaginative China Mieville, very specific advice as to process:

"If you want to write a novel, don't try to stare at it head-on. It is Gorgon: If you meet its gaze it will turn you to stone. Countless wonderful books get not written -- a more intransigent state of affairs that not getting written, by far -- this way. Instead, I recommend writing a book behind your own back. Frontload as much organization as you can -- way more than you think necessary, certainly more than you want to -- plan the whole thing out in detail. Characters, setting, story, in deep detail, so you have an overall arc, an outline of at least a short paragraph for each chapter, what'll happen in it, who's going to do what in it, and where you need to be by the chapter's end. Estimate the book's overall length, very roughly. (In words. Stop thinking in pages, please: in the modern world of font-profusion, let alone the explosion of e-books, it is totally unhelpful to keep saying "I wrote 10 pages today." Ten pages in, what 8 pt. Courier? 17 pt. Centaur? I implore you to think in terms of numbers of words, not "pages.")

Take a good long time over this -- a few good weeks. Then, when it is done, forget it. Don't look at it. That way, when you've finished, you'll have a book-plan, which, paradoxically, will allow you to ignore the terrifying book-ness of the book. Because all you need to focus on is the chapter you're on, and you know what has to happen there, because you've planned it, and it's right in front of you. Forget about the rest of it, just focus on trying to write, say, 500 words (or whatever) on a writing day, and thinking just about the chapter you're in, and getting to the end of it. If you don't do that, everything you write you'll be thinking in terms of "Adding To The Novel," and that's way too intimidating, so there's every possibility you'll stall."

And then, from the other end of the planning spectrum, these words from comic book writer Geoff Johns (and recently named co-president or something or other of DC Comics):

"Stop thinking about writing and write."

Words of wisdom. I didn't know that China Mieville was such a planner, but it makes sense since his books are long and dense and chewy, with crazy world-building skills and lots of characters and man, Perdido Street Station had one of the ickiest wickedest monsters evah. His approach, above, is sort of what I'm up to this month -- I took a chunk of the book and made an outline and I'm taking it on piece by piece. I go in waves of working that way. Sometimes that is called for, and other times I need to "fly into the mist", that is, go forward not knowing, invite serendipity, close my eyes and see what magic appears, see what blossoms. But now I'm on a little planned spree, so we'll see how that goes. And yesterday I met my small "goat" which was section 1 off my new outline. Yay! I love making tick marks on a list. Section one, tick.

Happy wishes to all writers today :-)

(Peter S. Beagle's writing advice in that article, by the way, is very practical: "Invest in a comfortable pad for the chair in which you work." Ha ha. From someone currently sitting on a folded afghan on a hard bench, I can tell you it isn't bad advice! I also happen to be reading Peter S. Beagle's first novel right now, A Fine and Private Place, and I was marveling at it even before I learned the effer wrote it when he was 19!!!!! How-what-really-whuuu??? Seriously: so smart, so good.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

March mini-NaNo Club, come on, you know you want to do it!

Okay, stalwarts, it's on! March mini-NaNo! Thank you for joining me in the crazy push to get a draft done by the end of the month. A draft. A beginning, a middle, and an end. A big, juicy, messy word-count boost to your work-in-progress. Of course you can start something new if you want to play and are not currently working on a novel. Or you can just vow, as I am, to finish a draft of your w.i.p. by the end of the month!

Amber suggested having a sign-up for accountability, and I think that is a good idea! So sign into Mr. Linky if you're on board. I'll post a new Mr. Linky every Wednesday this month and we can fill in our word counts for the previous week. Sound good? This being the first one, if you want to fill in a word count goal for the week ahead, you can do that. Or just sign up.

In a little bit of mental synchronicity, Jolie at Cuppa Jolie just declared March "Crack Your W.I.P. month" -- she's encouraging you to set an ambitious w.i.p. goal for the month and check in there for support. Somebody even promised red licorice whips to everyone who accomplishes their goal! Nice!

Okay, so there we have it. BIG PLANS FOR MARCH! March is, after all, when NaNo should be. November is a ridiculous month for it. I'm excited: no plans this month, no commitments, just this draft (and, you know, the whole life/family/friends thing, of course, minor detail :-)

So, how have my first few days of this March plan gone? I've written a lot of words, but I have to fess up that it's mostly been brainstorming and notes, but today I had some "snicks" that I think will carry me through . . . until I get confused again. Who, me? What?

So tomorrow real word count starts to get racked up. Excited!!! Good luck, all!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Mission for March & the Baby Food Theory of Process

As of yesterday I laid a new plan of attack, and I'm speaking it *aloud* here to make it real. (If you don't blog about it, did it really happen?) It is my resolution to write to an ending of a draft of the current novel by the end of March. Yikes.

This will involve using every trick in my writerly tool box, as well as gritting my teeth plenty to endure the suck. It's not my usual M.O., and I've written before how the enforced fast draft doesn't work for me, worse, how it killed my book (a different book, the one I wrote before this one, which has never been read by a living soul, including myself, and which is festering away in a top-secret file). But. This book isn't that book, and I am hereby promulgating a new theory, which I dub:

Having recently started feeding Clementine solids, I have learned that one is advised to try a baby on a particular food multiple times before deciding that they don't like it, because their taste buds change. Well, that's what I'm saying about process too. Maybe process taste buds change! Just because the fast draft of that last book murdered it, doesn't mean the same thing will happen for this book. I'm way too invested in this book for that to happen. (A few people have asked what I'm working on, and I'll just say for now that it is YA, in the vein of Lips Touch, but unrelated, and a long novel, not stories.) But I need major momentum now, helter-skelter dangerous momentum, like pushing a boulder down a hill and then standing back and watching Bambis and bunnies scatter and flee.

Once I read that a writer (I think it might have been Cynthia Leitich Smith, but I could be totally wrong about that) would write a fast first draft and then delete it. GASP! HORROR! And I didn't get that AT ALL. But I can see it now. Because when I write a fast draft of a chapter, I often don't even read it, I just take what I learned in the writing of it, the way the story went, and use that to write a nicer draft, with more attention to craft and pacing. So that's kind of what I'm thinking now for my March mission, only instead of chapter by chapter, I'll barrel through the whole thing, and I will not actually delete the resulting mess (I never ever delete anything, ever), but I may not force myself to reread it.

I am going to get a draft written, by hook or by crook, by the end of the month. I AM. (Asks, in a small voice, "Does anyone want to join me?" Tiny secret March NaNo club?)

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Meanwhile, Jes asked in comments to the last post how I am getting writing done with a widget in my life. Good question! Ever since my pregnancy I've been meaning to do a series of interviews of working-mama-authors and ask them the same thing. I'll start with my own answer, which is: it's largely luck, that Jim and I both work at home and we're able to construct a schedule whereby we each have work time when we're at our best creatively. My best time is the morning (which is why I'm blogging now, snort snort), so I work from around 8:30/9 am to around 1, and then again after Clementine goes to bed (NOT my more productive time, but I'm working on it, because boo hoo hoo for me, you've got to use the time you have!); I have Clementine in the afternoon, from lunchtime to dinner, while Jim works. So that's how we do it.

And can I say how glad I am we can arrange things this way? Neither of us is on baby-duty for so many hours in a row that we get frazzled. It's more like when our turn comes around, we're delighted to see the little bunny and we're totally ready for a work break to take a walk or a nap or play. It's pretty awesome. Of course, we waited until we were old to have a baby, so it's not totally luck. We built our life to be like this, and worked on our careers first so we would be working at home full time.

One of the writers in that Guardian list had as a rule for writers: Don't have children. Well, I don't think one must go that far, but children do make it trickier to work out a writing schedule, that's for sure. They also make life deeply, deeply rich, add whole dimensions to it and to you, and any level of trickiness is worth it. But if you're a young aspiring writer, I would suggest that getting your first few books written (and if possible, published) before starting your family is not a bad idea -- but your life is your life, and you build it yourself day by day, and there are plenty of writers out there who didn't start writing/publishing until after they had children. Do whatever works for you! Find a way.

MAKE a way!

Have a great day!