Well, now it’s a party.

Hi All,

It’s going to take me a while to figure out how to stay on top of the posts and provide some support, but I am looking forward to this team approach.

Just a quick update on my writing…last week I churned out a 3k short for submission to a “bizarro” anthology. I have my book in the hands of a “bizarro” book reviewer and he encouraged me to throw something at the antho, so I did.

With that out of the way, I have two projects: the next novel, and a bizarro novella (although it might be paused, once I hear about my submission — I’m not sure if I totally get the “bizarro” thing). The novella will be around 20k and needs to be wrapped up for submission by mid-Nov. The first draft of the novel would be ideally be done by New Year’s. We’ll see.

I’m taking a very specific and planned path with the novel and I will be sharing that in my next post.

Tom

Visual Inspiration

Day One – Organization

I have been brainstorming and researching this new storyline for a few months now. So it isn’t completely new to me. But before I launch into writing mode on a new project, I always feel compelled to organize first.

I’ve pulled out an old 3-ring binder discarded my one of my kids at the end of last school year. I’ve repurposed a few dividers and marked the tabs appropriately. And I’ve printed out all of my current research and brainstorming notes.

Covenant The SeriesBut there is one more thing that I must have before I start writing. I NEED my visual inspiration – imagery to remind me of a theme within the story. I need a working cover for my book/series that I can print and slip into the cover of my new (repurposed) binder.

Voila! The unveiling…

No, this won’t be the official cover. It’s just for my work-in-progress binder.

Unlike my other series, this one is not a romance. No need for a smoky-eyed, bare-chested, tattooed warrior hero on the cover. Sure, that would be an “inspiration”. 😉

But the themes in this series just might be provocative enough on their own.

Mystery word count

I got stuck yesterday. I finished a chapter with a couple of hundred words, then realized that even though I knew what was coming soon, I didn’t know what was next. So I spent some time organizing — going back and reminding myself of my loose threads and what needed to be tied together, working out which characters needed to be in which scenes, trying to decide the order of events and the timing for them. I wound up with about five open documents, three short sketches of scenes, an outline and character notes and a slightly different plan for the rest of the book. I have one piece of plot puzzle that I haven’t quite figured out and I really need to get that settled, but it stumped me yesterday so I moved on to scenes. I don’t know what my total word count was, but definitely less than 1000. Still, it was probably at least 500 and by my more recent standards, that marks it as a decent day.

And decent is better than nothing. Onward!

Just Another Line in the Sand

When I think of lines drawn in sand a vision of Robin Williams always comes to mind. Just in case you don’t remember his performance “Live at the Met” from way back in 1985, here’s a quick link to Robin’s bit about Colonel Gaddafi and his shifting “line in the sand”.

But here I am shifting my own goal lines.

Today was supposed to be my first day on my 30-Day writing binge.

Well, life happens! This coming week, Hubby is having major surgery and the family is preparing for it. In some ways, it feels like I’m preparing for a 5-week hurricane:

  • Handy contact list – must be able to reach all doctors in the middle of the night
  • Gather basic disaster supply kit – lots of bottled water, hurt-free bandaids and rubbing alcohol (for when I feel sadistic 🙂
  • Food – stock up on brothy soups and lots of crackers
  • Entertainment – keep the iPad near to the bed at all times and have the NFL TV schedule handy

I know. I should feel sorry for Hubby. He’s going to have a foot of his colon ripped out of his body. Not fun. And for the first week, I know I’ll be a great nurse. (I have a very nice bedside manner.)

But after that first week… 😉

The whole truth.

25.

Yep, not the most successful of days yesterday. I hadn’t slept and I couldn’t figure out how to string the words together in sentences that made any sense.

That said, I did write three blog posts, so it wasn’t as if I did nothing. And the occasional day spent wandering the house in a blur of exhaustion is inevitable.

Today’s writing is dialog and I’m going to have to work hard not to make it come across as an info dump. I’ll be answering some of the big questions about my MacGuffin on my way to the (we hope) tension-filled climax.

Why word count?

Someone linked to this blog this morning, which was sorta weird, since I don’t think of the blog as being particularly public. We’ve only been writing here for a little while, so it’s tough to see how we could be in search engines already. But the gist of the link questioned word count as a valuable measure of writing. I’m not going to link back to it, because frankly, I think it was just link-bait, a basic SEO technique, and after glancing at the blog, I didn’t find it interesting enough that I care to promote it. (For non-web folks, SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization, a way to get a higher ranking on search engine results.)

But I did think about it for a few minutes (in, I admit, a patronizing, pat-on-the-head, poor-boy-doesn’t-get-it kind of way.) The fact is, word count is a measure of practice. Writing is a craft, a learned skill, and the more you practice, the better you should get. That’s not necessarily true, of course–you can spew words indefinitely without ever improving if you’re not actually working on trying to get better. But mostly, the more you write, the better you’ll get. 

So why measure word count instead of time spent? Because writing the words is how you get better. And it’s really, really easy as a writer to say, “oh, I worked for three hours yesterday,” when what you actually did was spend two hours researching (aka browsing the web) and another hour plotting (aka daydreaming). And those hours may be important, but they’re not how you improve the skill of building sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters.

An artist might spend an hour mixing paints. Is that useful? Sure. But it doesn’t improve their drawing skill. A musician might spend an hour messing around with the buttons on their recording software. A necessary job? Maybe. But it’s not practicing chords, it’s not learning how to play. Word count measures an accomplishment. It measures the fact that you sat down and did the job, built the sentences, shaped them into paragraphs.

And the idea that the word count doesn’t matter if the words aren’t good is like a musician thinking her time spent is only valuable when she’s playing a symphony. Musicians know better than that. Practicing chords is useful. Noodling around is useful. Learning new music, useful. Time spent practicing matters, because that’s how our skill grows. And in writing, that’s time spent actually producing words. Polishing the words, perfecting them, that’s a job for after you’ve actually written them.

So, word count yesterday: 1033. And if that sounds to you like I hit 1000 with a sigh of relief and quit for the day, you’d be quite right. But 1000 words written when it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t easy is more of an accomplishment than 10 beautiful, perfect stellar words. (Except, I guess, if I was writing poetry!)

 

Alas, 218 was the best I could do

So yesterday wasn’t the most productive writing day. I did manage to finish my beta read and send it off, but post-yoga, I went grocery shopping. Instead of getting writing-inspired, I got cooking-inspired. Made a spicy tuna volcano for dinner and it was YUM, but I didn’t get a lot of writing done before going out to my evening appointment, and only managed a few more words after coming home and eating dinner.

That was yesterday, though, and today’s another chance to do better. (Yeah, I could be a motivational speaker, couldn’t I? LOL.) Anyway, aiming for 1000 today and hoping for more. I going to be making another fun dinner — seared tuna steak on mixed greens, but I’ve got plenty of hours to get good writing done first.