This week has been a total bust, writing-wise.
I started getting sick Sunday evening. By Monday, I had a fever and chills, coupled with an incredible rate of snot generation. That’s morphed into a lovely cough with a bonus sinus headache.
So instead of using Memorial Day to sprint through my word count for the week, I spent it trying not to move from underneath the covers. And every day since, I’ve spent what little energy I have at the day job, leaving me nothing for the novel.
And I’m still not well. Dammit.
I’m angry and I’m frustrated. I feel like a week of work has been stolen from me.
But I’m trying not to be angry at myself. I tell myself that illness is going to happen. And I can either rail at myself for taking it easy, or accept that there are times when I’m not going to be able to do everything.
It feels like an excuse, to be honest. But I also know that after a day of coughing and sneezing and headaches and working to keep the roof over my head, my brain is mush.
So I have to give it time. For now.
So I messed up.
I’ve been hitting my 1,500 word goal each week, like clockwork. But it’s not enough.
Based on where I am now, I’d need to write (or edit) something like 8,000 words a week in order to hit my self-imposed deadline of the end of June.
That kind of pace is…unlikely, to say the least. Possible, sure, but unlikely, given my schedule.
Earlier this week, I thought about going for it. Staying up later, getting up earlier, pushing to finish on time.
But the more I thought about it, the more stressed I became. It was harder to get started writing in the morning, because I knew I’d need to write four times my usual word count just to keep up.
I actually thought about quitting the novel altogether. Just dropping it and going back to working on some short story ideas. I’ve got plenty of them; I could keep busy with shorter fiction for the rest of the year.
Instead, I’ve decided to get rid of the source of my stress and doubts: I’m scrapping the deadline.
I’m definitely going to up my weekly word count, though, starting next week. 1,500 words is just not cutting it, in terms of finishing in a timely fashion. I don’t want to be still working on this draft next year. And I do have short stories I want to work on, stories that will take time to get right. Time I’ll have to earn by finishing this novel draft.
Wish me luck.
After missing last month’s, I finally made it back to the Coffeehouse yesterday.
Peter Clines stepped in for Jonathan Maberry to run it this time, with Henry Herz providing some useful counterpoints throughout.
We had more of a free-form discussion than usual, which ranged from “What’s going on with the WGA and their agents?” to “How do I write characters of other backgrounds and ethnicities without stepping into cultural appropriation?”
Many thanks to Clines and Herz for sharing their wisdom while keeping the discussion flowing, and to Mysterious Galaxy for hosting!
- henry: you can pants your story, but don’t pants your career
- peter: know what you want to get out of it, be honest about what you want, and go for it
- in tv, producers have more power than directors; directors can change every week, but producers stay and control the story arcs
- upcoming events:
- may 11th: san diego writers workshop
- september: central coast writers conference
- peter: phoenix comic fest has great writers track, con runs until midnight every night; it’s next weekend, but something to think about for next year
- early august: scbwi annual conference in LA
- june 20-22, historical novel society, in maryland, good program
- mythcon is in san diego this year; run by mythopoetic society
- new york pitch fest: 4 days in june, pitching to agents and editors in manhattan
- black hare publishing: soliciting submissions for two anthologies; small press, but looks professional; drabble fiction (200 words)
- contract reviews? join the author’s guild, they’ll review contracts for members
- arbitration: wga takes all the people that did drafts of a movie or dialog polishes, etc and decides who gets credit for the movie
- pierce brown wrote screenplay for red rising specifically to get paid screenwriting credits via wga arbitration; more important to him than the control over the screenplay
- 95% of the time, when they option your book, they’ll ask if you want to write the screenplay; they’ll throw it in the trash, but they’ll ask anyway, just to stave off any future tantrums
- watch the balance between plot and story; if the story finishes but the plot keeps going (moonlighting syndrome) it’s going to feel flat and boring
- peter: when revising, will do a draft just for one character, following their thread all the way through; helps catch inconsistencies in appearance, name, and their story arc (did i do anything with this plot of her conflict with her boss?)
- k.m. weyland: creating character arcs
- aeon timeline: interacts with scrivener, can help visualize the timeline of your story
- henry’s doing picture book writing pt 2 later this month; send first draft to him ahead of time, they’ll critique it in the class; compliment to the first class, but not necessary to have taken it
- lookup robert smalls, escaped slave
Only 1,147 words so far this week.
I seem to be perpetually hovering around 1/3 of the final word count of the novel, between 15,000 and 18,000 words. My total word count will start to climb, as I add new scenes, but then plunge when I delete old ones that no longer fit.
And I’ve still got that deadline of the end of June to hit.
I shouldn’t be worried, I suppose. If I finish another third this month, and then the final third in June, I’ll hit my target.
But what if I’m only halfway through by the end of May? What am I going to give up in order to get back on track?
Because I need to hit my June deadline. I’m already looking at writing conferences in the fall, ones where you can get pitch sessions with agents and editors. Spending all that money to go will be a waste if I don’t have a finished book to pitch.
So I need to finish this editing pass by the end of June, so I can send it off to beta readers for feedback, and have time to do some polishing passes before October.
October. Damn, I don’t want to still be working on this book by then.
I’d better get back to writing.