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?)

* * *

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!


Ez said...

yes! mini march nano. Love the idea, I need it.

Anonymous said...

LOL-love your latest post, as always, especially the pic of you & Clementine! Admittedly, I was a bit bummed about Waters' advice, but when I heard the one about having children, I had to just laugh off that whole list. Did those writers every hear of Astrid Lindgren, Beverly Cleary, or, dare I say, Laini Taylor? All phenomenal authors WITH children, obvy! :-)

Curious: March NaNo of your own desiring, or outside pressure (editor, agent, publisher, etc?)?

Susan Knoppow said...

You might like the book A Question of Balance: Artists and Writers on Motherhood by Judith Pierce Rosenberg. I read it when M was a tiny pumpkin; should probably read it again. Great insight from women who mixed motherhood and art in completely different ways.

Laini Taylor said...

Thanks, Susan! I'll look it up :-)

And Anonymous, I do have a deadline but it's not crazy-soon; I just want momentum to carry me through a draft, so I can get to the FUN part (for me), which is: making it better!!!

Commander Kip said...

Miss Laini, your baby has THE cutest hair. Evar. XD Good luck with your mini-NaNo!

lizardek said...

Official new favorite momma-baby pic EVER.

Faith E. Hough said...

I'll join you in a Mad March rush to finish drafts. :) (With my 6-month-old baby, too!)
Awesome post, thank you!

Emilie said...

There is Katherine Paterson's approach to family and writing, which (to seriously paraphrase) went something like: I could maybe have written more if I had fewer children (she had 4), but these little people who took up so much of my time are the ones who gave me things to write about. And who is any children's author to argue with Grand Duchess Katherine?:)

Besides, that last picture is sooooo not the way to discourage writers reading your blog to delay having babies...at least not this writer:) Just don't tell my hubby!

Lacy said...

I need a March Nano as well. Just need to power through it. I say yay March Nano

storyqueen said...

Good luck!

You CAN do this!! Grab your machete and go!!


Rosanne said...

Hey Laini,

Sounds to me like you've found a good mama-writer groove. It's all about defining and re-difining your writing time (and once that little charmer is up on her feet it's also about defining your writing space.)

I'll join you in a March WriMo. But I'm right back at the beginning so I'm going to commit to writing a different character sketch or scene every day in March until I find the character I want to work with for a whole novel. And since character sketches are short I'll also finish the St. Patrick's Day picture book I've been messing with for ages.

Thanks for the nudge. I was needing a new goal.

Amber Lough said...

That is the best post I've read in a long time. And so true.

I'm in. I need to finished this book. I meant to finish it last month, but stuff happened. This month, I mean to get it done. No matter what.

Should we get a public list going of those who mean to finish their books before April? Making it public, as you say, makes it "real." And we're stuck to it.

Jes said...

What a kind post! Thank you for talking about your and Jim's schedules--what a gift you give by showing us the inside of your little family to see how it runs. :) I'll join your March Write-athon; it's the perfect opportunity to see if I can carve out and commit to some serious scribble sessions.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a load of hooie that one can't have children and pursue a writing career, being fifteen, I guess I wouldn't really know, but I do know several people who are pulling it off quite succesfully!

Unfortunatly march is waaay to busy to try Nanoing for me, but good luck!

Great picture!!!!!


Susan Knoppow said...

Kate Daniels' comment on writing, motherhood, etc. from her book, Four Testimonies

Prayer for My Children

I regret nothing.
My cruelties, my betrayals
of others I once thought
I loved. All the unlived
years, the unwritten
poems, the wasted nights
spent weeping and drinking.

No, I regret nothing
because what I’ve lived
has led me here, to this room
with its marvelous riches,
its simple wealth –
these three heads shining
beneath the Japanese lamp, laboring
over crayons and paper.
These three who love me
exactly as I am, precisely
at the center of my ill-built being.
Who rear up eagerly when I enter,
and fall down weeping when I leave.
Whose eyes are my eyes.
Hair, my hair.
Whose bodies I cover
with kisses and blankets.
Whose first meal was my own body.
Whose last, please God, I will not live
to serve, or share.

Lacy said...

I agree with Amber. We should make a public list so we are accountable. Great Idea. Yay March Nano!

Cuppa Jolie said...

That picture of you and Clementine slays me. Oh my!

So over at Cuppa, I've been selfishly asking people to join me to push my word count forward and decided to turn it into CRACK YOUR WIP in March(a sort of support group for those that have WIP goals this month).

Laini Taylor said...

Oh yay! Lots of March NaNo'ers :-) And Jolie, Crack your WIP sounds fab. I will check it out, and I will follow up, on Amber's suggestion, with a public list for March NaNo later this evening (maybe we can commit to giving our word counts every Wed, from a week from today until March 31? Right now, play group is on the way! About to shift from writer to mommy :-)

Bets said...

Writing + baby ! Yay! I like the baby food process and am all for giving it a try this month.

Amber Lough said...

Got a good idea today, and it coincides with your word-count on Wednesdays status, Laini. We need to set weekly goals that work up to our final goal. I did that earlier, and have given myself a word-count that I need to meet by next Wednesday. I think having a succession of smaller goals will help us along the way. And we can have mini rewards for achieving them!

I also joined up with Jolie in Whip your WIP Month.

Now I must go do domestic duties. *sigh*

tone almhjell said...

Frazzled. Yeah. That's me.

jenn said...

I really need to finish my draft too. Only it's not a first draft, but more like a 15/16/17th draft and allllmost ready to be seen by an agent or editor's eyes. This isn't the greatest month for me as I have several major commitments that will be eating large chunks of my time, but every month is like that for me and that's part of why it's taken me so dang long to get to the point I'm at. So I'm in for a major writing push--I've already been doing so this month and it will be great to do it in solidarity with others who inspire me.

Getting to it now in fact!

persnickety_jen said...

What an excellent idea, about not treating all drafts like each other. Good luck on the March mini-NANO! I hope you make your goal!

Funny that one author would advise other writers not to have children. A lot of authors I've read say that having children made them more creative, more inspired to write. Personally, I think stories are just another breed of children. :)

Heather said...

Clementine looks like she stepped right out of Whoville! Heartbreakingly cute!

And your advice is more helpful that you'll ever know.

Katie Anderson said...

I love these posts! And I love yours and Jim's schedule (how awesome! makes baby making fun :) And I love that crack your WIP thing! But most of all, I love that photo of y'all! That Clementine is simply yummy!