Archive for the ‘ABNA’ Category
Revising takes way longer than I expected when I got started on it. It’s a bit frustrating. But when I got my new office all set up and sat in there on the first morning, I found that I just couldn’t sit and edit on the computer. The system I eventually settled on was going through each scene and rewriting them on paper (with changes). Because I can be very tactile when it comes to paper and pens and whatnot, I’ve only been able to concentrate for more than five minutes if I use a real wooden pencil. Which means lots of sharpening. And then of course I have to retype everything. But I’ve been very happy with my results so far.
Welcome to the brain of a writer.
Somehow, maybe because of the time it takes to go from brain to pen, I’ve always written better by hand. So, it’s slower, but I’m less likely to need 5 or 6 drafts this way. And I suppose that’s an acceptable trade. But between that and the fact that I’ve been working, there was no way I was going to get the thing ready for the ABNA deadline.
I felt like things were moving slowly, but I wasn’t quantifying it in any way, so it was just my impression. So I sat down and figured out how many pages I’d edited and how many pages there were total. And things really were moving slowly, though 10% isn’t such a bad number. It was nowhere near 100% though. In the end, the important thing is that I’ve been learning to quantify things so that I can hold myself accountable for my writing time. I put a nifty little progress bar on here, and I’ve been keeping a log in Joe’s Goals (which I love). So if I go more than a day without working on things, I can see it visually. And that should help tremend0usly.
I took one of those tests that tell you your learning style back when I was tutoring. And the conclusion was that I was all of them, with a little bit higher score in Reading/Writing. As a tutor, it meant that I could translate things into different learning styles. But when it comes to how I work, it means that I’m visual for some things, aural for others, tactile for others. Like how I won’t remember how to get somewhere (even if I’ve been there dozens of times) unless I actually drive there myself. And if I don’t have a place for bills to be right in front of me, I forget that I need to send people checks (this is one of those things that I particularly hate about myself). And when I’m editing something, I have to print it out and do it on paper, usually with a certain pen or pencil. It can be frustrating sometimes to try to figure out a new system when I’m trying something I haven’t done before. But eventually I hit on a system that works. And for now, the cobbled together progress bar + logbook + office hours thing seems to be working.
Though, it makes me curious. I know other writers have to have weird quirks like my pencil thing. I wonder how many different weird writing rituals there are out there.
I have discovered that now is the perfect time to be revising my novel. In my first drafts, I didn’t really bring much weather into play. I never had much trouble making word counts, so I never felt like I had to describe weather and such in miniscule details in order to get the words. So, it was mostly glossed over as I worked toward just getting the story down.
But, as I’ve been going through the revisions, I’ve realized that there should be a lot of cold going on. Things begin with the main character worrying about surviving the winter on her very meager paycheck. And then she wanders off for a months long journey without meeting any snow along the way. And with the severe drought issues plaguing the world, maybe she still won’t run into snow. But she should definitely run into some chilly mornings, when her breath turns into fog in front of her. There should be cold nights, spent beneath a blanket, her teeth chattering as she fights to ignore the numbness of her toes. There should be cold winds that steal her breath away and leave her cheeks feeling burned. And all of these things are things that I’ve become reacquainted with recently, since it’s snowed several feet in the last few weeks. It’s been cold, then less cold, then even colder than before. My fingertips have gone numb from shoveling a driveway. My toes have gotten wet from the snow and frozen in my shoes. I’ve gone to bed and cuddled up beneath several blankets because we were trying to save a little money and keep the heat down just a little.
And all that stuff, means that I still remember cold as I’m writing all the soon to be wintery stuff. Which just creates a new reason to make my deadline of the 25th. Because even if I don’t submit to ABNA, I’ll still want to get these revisions done while I still remember what cold feels like.
So, my husband works nights. And if I’m working (which I hope to be doing soon), he’s the one that has to get up with the baby. Which means she needs to be on his schedule. And that means that when I’m not working, I tend to fall into their schedule of staying up until 2am or later and sleeping in until 2pm or later. But now that I have an office for myself, a deadline (ABNA submissions begin January 25th), and the prospect of less time in the very near future (as soon as I get scheduled at H&R Block), I realized that sleeping on their schedule meant that when I was awake, they were awake. And when they’re awake, I have trouble getting writing stuff done. There’s just so much other stuff to do. Diaper changes, meals, the required cuddling with the baby time. It all adds up to not much writing work done.
So, I set the alarm for a few hours earlier. And I actually got up. And I actually went into my office, and I managed to work uninterrupted for three hours. It was probably the most productive I’ve been since NaNoWriMo. And it just started my day off on a good foot. I ended up feeling more on top of things for the rest of the day. Which was really a great feeling. And it will definitely encourage more “early” mornings when I can manage them. Also, since I woke up early, but the baby’s bedtime didn’t move, it was basically like adding 2-3 hours to my day. And really, I didn’t need to be sleeping so much anyway.
As an aside, typing on a computer is much less comfortable when you’re trying to keep your heating bill low so the thermostat is set a little lower than usual. I almost went to get my gloves. Especially since the vent in that room is closed and we haven’t put plastic over the window yet (we’re way behind with that stuff). It was definitely a chilly three hours of work. But that just meant I had to focus on the writing in order to keep from getting too cold.
I’ve been working on revisions of my 2007 NaNovel in anticipation of this years Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Last year, I didn’t know about it until a week before the submission period, so my entry was incredibly rushed. This year, I’ll still be a little rushed, but only because they’re holding the competition earlier in the year than I expected. They just announced last week that the submission period will begin January 25th. So I have a little more than a month to get my revisions done and prepare my pitch. Luckily, the way I’m starting on my revisions should make a pitch and synopsis much easier to write. So I’ll work hard on my revisions, then finish up my pitch. Then, after submitting to the competition, I’ll write my synopsis and query, so that if I don’t win I’ll be ready to start submitting it as soon as I’m knocked out of the competition.
As part of my revision process (and an attempt at continuing my Christmas cheer), I’ve been doing some major cleaning. We have a spare room that’s basically been a holding space for. . . whatever. We kept trying to plan a move to Arizona, so there were a ton of empty boxes. Plus, whenever we moved our cluttered desks from one spot to another, we had a bad habit of just sticking all the clutter in a box and tossing it in the spare room. Which is a really bad habit that I hope to break.
Since I decided that I need a spot where I can go to write without being interrupted, I wanted to turn the spare room into an office. Which meant going through a LOT of boxes, setting up some shelves, and managing to stick a desk in there right next to the exercise bike (that my husband may move out into the living room so he can exercise while he watches TV. I still think it looks messy in there, but I made room for my desk, so it counts as an office. And, since a lot of the stuff that didn’t get thrown away when I was going through everything, is baby stuff, I know that all of that clutter will start to disappear after we have our second kid. But we’ve always planned on having two, so it seemed silly to get rid of any baby stuff that we might be able to use with the second kid. So after kid number two (est. to be born 2011), all of the baby clothes and the bassinet and the swing and all of that stuff, can be sold/given/thrown away. Which will make the room even cleaner. And I can tolerate pretty much anything, if I know it’s temporary.
The next step, after cleaning up that room, is finishing with my daughter’s room. We’re moving her toys out of the living room and into her bedroom so that we have room for the Christmas tree. And since her room has been the home for a big filing cabinet that we weren’t actually using, there’s plenty of room in there for toys after my mom adopts the filing cabinet.
So it’s a lot of house cleaning and rearranging, just to make it so that I have my own space for writing and editing. But as soon as I’m done rearranging my house for my writing, it will make rearranging my time for my writing a whole lot easier. Not to mention, I’ll feel a really great sense of accomplishment when my house looks a little closer to what I want it to look like. And feeling good about my house and myself makes a huge difference in my writing.
By the time this post goes up, I should be really really close to winning (like 3000 ish words away), if I’m not done already. Week Three was by far the hardest. And not even because of my novel. Week Three I was saddled with both jury duty and training with H&R Block for this next tax season. Which meant that by the time I got home in the evenings, I was too exhausted to get much writing done. Every single night of the week, my word count goal was 38k. And I didn’t hit that number until Saturday night.
I have definitely learned this year that my husband is more of a writing distraction than my daughter is. I can easily get several thousand words on a night when he’s working. But night when he’s home, I don’t even always hit the basic word count goal of 1667 words.
I have also learned that my husband complains far less about my participation if I take the time to do the dishes before I get started on my writing. And I’ve been keeping him happy by making sure to cook dinner at night before he even knows he’s hungry. Which seems like the opposite of NaNo dogma. But I like the break. And since I’m winning before Thanksgiving, it’s apparently not a detriment to my wordcount.
My plans after winning: Choose a novel to focus on revising and preparing for this year’s ABNA. Assuming it’s going to happen again. And then, there’s NaNoEdMo to spend revising yet another novel. Now that I think I’ve figured out how to keep my focus, I have a feeling I’m going to get quite a bit more accomplished in the next year than I did last year.
I just did a little bit of updating on my site. Mostly to put up the rest of the video links now that the Mansion series is complete (sort of). I also added some info about the ABNA, which I went insane and entered even though I only found out about it 3 days before the deadline.
Deadlines are good for me. I can get a little freaked out and psychotic, but I get things done. And while, I hadn’t been intending to do anything publishy (like the new word?) with The Mansion this year, the opportunity to do something that might have that result was too good to pass up. And even if I don’t get far in the competition, I still learned about the things I’ll have to work on for when I’m ready to start submitting that puppy. Like my hook. And my synopsis. All that stuff that I’ve put off for way too long, but I need to start thinking about it.
But anyway, now that I’ve entered and the deadline has passed, I’m going to be back to writing. I actually was doing really well on my writing goal last week until I found out about the contest. I was over halfway to my goal at the end of the day Tuesday. So I’ve been feeling good this week, mostly. I worked out like I wanted to and I wrote like I wanted to and I entered this contest that is a total crapshoot, but at this point, there’s hope. Not a lot, since there are up to 10,000 people competing with me for one book contract. But a little hope. And really, I think that’s probably the best part about any contest. Even if the odds are incredibly against you, there’s always that little chance that you’ll win the big prize. And how awesome would that be?