Monday, September 13, 2010

Writer's Journal 9/12/10

Today's been downright writerful, all things considered.  Woke up and spent the morning doing critiques for my new writing group (or, rather, the already-established writing group that was kind enough to welcome me as a new member), finishing just in time to make the meeting in a punctual manner.  Seemed like a productive session.  I feel like it's probably about time for me to submit something for critique, though I'm not quite sure what.  Of the things I wrote at Clarion (which comprise the bulk of my shorter work), I've only revised one, and it seems like kind of a waste to workshop any of the rest, at least until I've had a chance to fool around with them some and fix the problems I know are there.  I suppose that means that the thing to submit is the one I've revised, but for some reason I left the session with the ambition that I would pick another one and fix it up for everybody (and, of course, it was one of the ones I haven't really thought about much yet, because that's how I roll).

I need to be careful about that, though.  After all, the plan is to stay focused on the (hopefully short) novel I've been developing for the last couple weeks.  I have not been terribly productive of late (hence the paucity of Writer's Journal posts here, or any posts at all for that matter, aside from my habit of passing along various and assorted pithy encapsulations and quotable quotes for your delectation and delight). 

Partly, it's that my regularly-scheduled life has taken up a fair bit of my time; I'm currently in the midst of reorganizing my files and paperwork and such, with an eye towards getting my various taking-care-of-business-type stuff wrestled into manageable and comprehensible form.  I was also, until Friday night, organizing a surprise birthday party for my lovely and awesome girlfriend Kendal, (in the Pussy Room at the Copper Gate in Ballard; later the two of us wandered down to Ocho, which is where I took Kendal on our first date (and have taken her on several subsequent dates), for some late-night tapas and cocktails).

So, partly I've just been busy with life, and not very disciplined about making time to work.  But I've also been trying to lay back and let my creative subconscious do its thing.  So far it seems to be working.  I finally got a chance to sit down and work on the outline a bit tonight, and though I definitely suffered from some focus issues (as I tend to do), I managed to get a fair bit of work done. 

I'm kind of excited with this new approach I'm trying, figuring out how it's all going to fit together before I actually start writing it.  I've always been a start, and when you get to the end, stop kind of writer, which, given the rate and quantities at which ideas occur to me, has led me down any number of paths that led nowhere besides the conviction that it was time to start over. 

So this whole planning things out in advance thing is a really refreshing change.

And it seems to be paying off.  Despite my hummingbird's attention span, I still managed to tack 1000 words or so onto the plan tonight, and I seem to be developing a structure (for the plan, at least) that's working for me.  I've got much (though not quite all) of part one figured out, two ideas for the prologue that are fighting it out in my head, and the early stages of part two mapped out as well. 

The way I'm organizing it is into three sections for each part (there are three in addition to the prologue, provisionally named Camel, Lion, and Child):  a summary of what happens and what it means, writing notes (on POV, tone, what's hidden and revealed, etc), and a basic sequence of events.  I imagine as I make more passes over the thing, the structure will continue to ramify, but I am pleased so far with how I'm figuring out not only the plot but also how to tie it to the overall structure of the novel.  I mean, I've experienced some of these sorts of epiphanies before with my previous project (the giant sprawling mess currently on the backburner while I do this more limited, probably more saleable project), but never in this focused a manner.  It's great.

As to the plan going forward, I aspire to have the outlining and preliminary work done in three to four weeks, after which I intend to schedule enough writing time (and keep the project limited enough) to bang out a draft in three to four months (say by mid-January). 

I think I'm most of the way to ready to start pushing it a little in terms of engagement.  After all, I did much if not most of the heavy lifting at Clarion, concept-wise, and it seems like the ongoing epiphany process seems to be well underway.  I've been taking it easy since I got back, waiting while my subconscious reconfigured itself and internalized the many invaluable lessons I learned over the summer.  I'm still not quite ready to start writing.  But I can feel it coming, and I think my plan, though it'll be intense, is doable, especially if I'm able to keep forging ahead with all this planning and outlining.

The only problem is staying focused, which brings me back to the first paragraph of the present installment of this writer's Writer's Journal.  Because I do also want to workshop stories, and critique, and submit for publication and such.  But I have some fear that I'll get sidetracked from the project I'm supposed to be working on, so I'm going to have to figure that out.  I've thought a little about trying to write some flash fiction (1000 words or less, for those unfamiliar with the term), which doesn't seem like it would be too distracting, and would provide sufficient fodder for submission (and rejection).  I just have to think of things that are amenable to being written in that form.  But I don't know.  Maybe I should stay focused on the project at hand, and let the rest slide, at least until I've got a completed draft.

Either way, it's a pretty exciting place to be. 

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