So close

I’m not going to hit my self-imposed end of April deadline for the first draft of my book, but I’m OK with that because I’m really close to being done. Just wrapping up a couple of the plot lines and I’ll have my first draft complete.  I know the revision stage is going to be ghastly, but at least now I have my raw material to work with. I’ve dug the ore out of the mine and now time to see if I have gold or iron pyrite.

Switching POV

Today’s chunk of writing felt good to me.  I was hitting some snags in a chapter that just wasn’t hitting the notes I wanted.  I ended up changing the point of view character for the chapter and things seemed to flow the way I wanted.  I was able to describe the scene in the way I wanted with the emotion I wanted to convey.

Originally I wanted to have the events described by the character in the middle of it hoping that the effort and stress he was experiencing would make the chapter interesting reading.  All it really ended up doing was making it confusing and incomplete.  Shifting the point of view to my other main character who was watching the scene gave me so many more options in describing what was going on.  If I wanted the panorama, I could describe what she saw in bigger, broader strokes.  For the moments I wanted more focus, I could have her describe the other main character and describe his physical exertion, the sweat on his brow, the determined look on his face as he fought through the crisis.

I’m sure I read something about this method before, but it didn’t really latch into my mental model until I needed it. I’m also hoping this carries over as I finish my first draft and work on my revisions.  I’m already expecting that when I start with my earliest parts of this draft, I’ll cringe with what I thought was a good start.

Today Was a Good Day

Had a really good past couple of days on both the writing and exercise front.   The weather and my schedule opened up enough for me to walk to work the other day, which was a really nice feeling. My weight is starting to come off again after actually going up then plateauing. It will take some more time and consistency, but  I’m feeling good about it.

Had a great writing day this morning, as the words just came out without much prodding. We’ll see how good it actually was when I revise, but I was pleased with the progress I made.  Hitting the climax of the book so I’m taking that as a good sign that I’m not having to plod along trying to connect where I am and where I want it to go.

All in all, things are going good.  I’m glad because the next few months are going to crazy at work.  But that’s a tale for another day.

How Quickly Things Run Away From You

I’ll admit it, I fell off the writing wagon.  I took a couple of days off – that stretched to about a week+ off.  One long day at work was enough for me to get thrown off what was beginning be a good habit.  Now I’m way behind schedule of my hitting my goal of getting the first draft of my first book done by May.  Well, no sense sitting here yammering on about it – time to get that nose back down to grindstone and churn out some chapters.

First Steps First

I’m still plugging along with the first draft of my book, but my attention is occasionally drawn to other things.  I’ll need to freshen up my web presence, reengage with social media, design/commission a book cover, learn about self-publishing and more things involving selling and distributing the book.  Putting the cart ahead of the horse, counting my chickens before they hatch, blah, blah blah … whatever you call it, that’s what I’m doing.  I don’t have my first draft done and yet I’m considering my marketing tactics.  The first thing is – I need to have a book to sell. A book worth selling would be even better.

 

Pacing of the story

One of the things I’m struggling with right now is how fast I should move a story along.  I’m noticing that I naturally leave out many details and descriptions on my first drafts; really moving plot forward with little thought toward setting stages or telling people anything but the points of the plot.  Perhaps that’s OK, but I do begin to wonder if whatever I am writing should be a novella, or even just a short story and instead of filling in to hit an arbitrary word count, I should be taking out.  I know consciously that I could just write it, then revise it, and then worry about whatever the word count happens to be at then, but emotionally I feel a part of me getting upset about what I thought would be a novel turning into a short story.

Again, it could be just me trying to find out what works for me as a fiction writer.  I know how I work when writing non-fiction because word count is often a part of the arrangement to get published.  My last book chapter had a prescribed word count they wanted; same with the journal article articles I submitted.

Then again, it could be that I’m used to writing for the web and brevity is a good thing. With that, I better stop writing this entry – I’ve gone over 225 words already!

Losing at weight loss

I’ve talked a bit about my struggles with my weight, but I think things are improving.  My actual weight has gone up a bit, but I’m currently thinking that is because I’ve added muscle mass.  We’ll see in about a month if I’m just deluding myself, but I am feeling better about my body.  My posture is improving and I do feel a touch stronger.  I don’t expect to get back to the physique I had as starving grad student, but I do need to get less round.

Adjusting again

I’m still getting used to the new job, or more specifically the time when I’m not in at the job.  When I’m in the office – its a normal 9 – 5 day.  When I’m doing a site visit – I might be hitting the road at 6:00 am and not getting back until 8:00 that night.  That makes scheduling things like workouts and writing time kind of hard to do.  Not impossible, mind you, but it can be hard to build that consistency of effort needed for both endeavors to actually make a difference.

I’m taking different approaches to achieve my goals.  For the workout, I’m choosing a program that allows me a day buffer one way or another.  Usually I’m hitting M-W-F, but if I need to move one to Tuesday or Thursday – it doesn’t throw off everything else for the week.  It can also be done in a hotel room if necessary and doesn’t need specialized equipment. Not having a lot of that extra “baggage” should help keep a consistent amount of exercise per week – which is my main focus instead of stressing about daily workouts.

Getting daily time to write needs another approach.  On those long days – I may not get a chance to hit the keyboard to write. Even on the non-work days, life events could pull me away from the computer at any moment. So instead of scheduling a certain time each day – I have a priority list. Whenever I get a chance to hit keyboard for an extend period of time, I do my daily writing first.  Before video games, before email, before web surfing – I get my writing in.  Most days I’m able to get that in easily and early in the day, but on those crazy days – the writing still gets done. It helps that I now use Dropbox to store my work in progress, so I can edit on my tablet when I get an extended break away from home.

All in all, probably nothing more than common sense approaches to getting things done, but often I read how there is only “one true way” to schedule your day.  For me I value flexibility in my free time, so I rely on prioritizing tasks instead of hard schedules. That’s what work for me anyway.

Place as character

After many false starts, I think I’m on the way with my latest writing project.  I’m writing a historical fiction set in my hometown around the time burnt a good chunk of the town’s businesses down. I kept starting out with the just POV characters I was trying to introduce kept hitting a point of frustration with this approach as it never felt like the location mattered in what I was writing.  I wanted to really include the village as an important part of the book, not just as a generic backdrop.  I then realized I needed to go about this the other way – I need to write about the village first.  I need to lay out why this place is different; what makes it unique and worth writing about. For the characters to interact in a way that feels right, I need to have the place feel right first.  Laying down a map, writing about the history of the village, getting the backstory on the businesses affected – all of that may not see print but it will help create those details that I want to see in my work.  At least, that’s the theory.  My big push starts this month, with a goal of having my rough first draft done by the end of April.

And the two steps back

So, I’ve just finished up a bunch of posts on how I wanted to get back into writing, and how I liked my job and now I have to write about how I’m changing stuff up again.  I’ve accepted a new job based in Lincoln.  During this summer I’ll be working both jobs leaving very little energy to do any writing. This fall, I’ll be leaving the director job in York and I can get back on a writing schedule.  I’m still taking by research trip in a few weeks to get material for my historical fiction novel, I’m just going to have to take longer to write it than I thought.

It will be a rough summer, but in the end everything should be good. I’ll have a job where I can spend more time at home and can take care of Julie a little better than being an hour away all day.

Like when I left UNL, it’ll be hard to leave my job in York.  I really like the community and I think there’s still a lot of untapped potential in that system.  I hope their next director takes them to the next step.

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