My office is upstairs in our garage which means when it is 88 degrees outside, it’s about 100 inside. I’ve had a busy summer, distracting and since July, not much writing getting done, letting things like being kicked off the Internet for a few days and the hot weather deter me.
BUT! I woke up this morning motivated and ready to ignore all the little procrastination hurdles that have kept me from getting down to it, and just get down to it. I feel kind of normal again. Yay! So I’m going to set up some goals here just to help me stay focused.
1. The Novel
No. I haven’t finished another draft and I haven’t even looked at it. However, something I heard in Steve Almond’s class at Tin House finally resonated with me. I’ve tried to complicate this project beyond my abilities and therefore have added years to the project. The good part of this is that my skills have certainly improved so when I do get this sucker done, it will be better than it would have. The bad part is I wouldn’t let go of my idea that if I worked hard enough, I could bend some rules and make something really original work. And that’s a great idea. It is, but not if the idea gets in the way of the story itself.
I have a good good story. I love my story. But I think I’ve been too in love with my story and need to get out of my own way–as they say. So thanks Steve, for your “think twice before you
wrinkle time” suggestion. This thinking this through business has led me to feel confident that I can get this project done this fall…and done with a minimum of angst. Much grass to you.
2. Short Stories
God, I love writing short stories, especially flash. And I will always write them, but what I’m thinking now is that I’ve gotten lazy. I love flash because I have so much going on in my head…ideas are never a problem…and the shorter format allows me to use the ideas that won’t hold up to a longer format. However, some of the WILL and SHOULD and I often feel resistant to doing this… or as I said, I get lazy.
One of my goals is to work on recognizing whether a story needs to be flash or longer–me, myself, before offering it up. Maybe come up with questions to put each “start” to a test of whether it should be worked long or short?? Not sure what I’ll do, expect I plan to pay more attention so that pieces that fail as flash will eventually get the depth they need.
3. Online Presence
Facebook, Flash Fiction Chronicles, Zoe, Fictionaut, Every Day Fiction, all these things have helped me become a better writer and I will not give them up. What I need to do though is make certain that I don’t spend more time than I have just floating around. I am pretty good at not letting these take up too much of my time and I feel they are important–doing my part to support the online writing community and to also keep me abreast for my own writing as to what is happening out there in the ether–but I perhaps need to figure out a more efficient way of working and perhaps ask for help more often.
Great to hear about your plans, Gay, especially for the novel. I think the Tin House advice is excellent, for everyone trying to get through a major project like that. I've taken it onboard also. Good luck with everything and I look forward to seeing many more of your short stories around the place.
Go for it, Gay!
The part about getting out of your/my own way really rang true for me.
Nice post Gay, trying to shake off the summer procrastination myself.My goal is to get a shorty story published and finally, finally starting on my novel.
I have been using Dan Simmons' excellent (if a little condescending) writing guide as an aid: http://www.dansimmons.com/writing_welll/archive/writing_index.htm
I feel it's almost too good to share, I want to keep it all to myself.
Also… get published in Everyday Flash!
Thanks Sarah for commenting. I miss our weekly confabs about writing.
And Johann, nice to hear from you. Glad you're working so hard and hoping to have you enter the next String of 10 in February!
I spent ages on my faeries novel and now I can see that the time it took was the time I needed to work out how to bring it to fruition. I wasn't capable of telling that story when I started. Last year, I did a fifth? sixth? yet another draft and finally I had something that made sense, that I could hand to people and they understood (which is now getting rejected all over, so take that as you will).
I think we do try to write things before we have the tools – which is good in a way but frustrating too.
I wrote like crazy in the Spring but stopped mid-July and haven't restarted yet. August laid me low, to be honest, and I'm going to be travelling for the first half of September. I've got a new pretty green and orange notebook though. Hopefully we're both about to storm through the word counts again!