"There is no great writing, only great rewriting." ~ Justice Brandeis

I recently finished a second draft of a zombie/Bluebeard story, tentatively called “The Girls Come and They Go”. It’s almost there. I need to smooth out some of the scenes, add some details and tension toward the end, and chop out some exposition before finishing up with some good polishing. (I’m tempted to try out the nerd polish excel thing, though I tend to be so focused on the text and hearing it in my head that it’s hard to me to stop and count how many times I used certain telling words.)

I intended to submit this story to an anthology, but the market has closed up. I was too slow getting the story written and edited, which I find terribly annoying. I would much prefer to have my story read by an editor and rejected than to not submit it because I working past the deadline date. It’s happened several times now, and I always kick myself every time (though the upside is that I now have a new story completed). So, now I have to find another market that’s open to looking at zombie stories.

Anyway, this realization — that I would prefer to have the story read and then rejected — has lead me to a decision. I currently have a handful or more stories in various states of revision that need to be polished off and submitted somewhere…. anywhere.

Therefore, I am not allowed to start any new stories (which is a sort of way to avoid the submission process) until I have finished revisions of at least a handful of stories and started sending them out. As great as it would be to launch into the next shiny thing, it’s also important to follow through, take the journey to its conclusion, so to speak.

I also have enough poems to assemble them into a collection for submission, too, and that also needs to happen.

I’m hoping to get all this done by November, though I have a two week trip to Germany (for work and play) happening at the beginning of October, which will really cut into things, but it’s an attainable goal, if I stay focused. Also, while I may not directly participate in Nanowrimo this year, I so have the Untitled Werewolf Novel to get back to and maybe start from scratch on.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. I’m hoping I’ll have a lot of submission posts to report in the near future (followed by lots of acceptance posts…. *fingers crossed*).

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Being an update of things accomplished and things to do

One of the ways I’m planning to keep motivated on my massive list of goals is to check in once a month and assess where I’m at. I know it hasn’t been a full month yet, but for some reason I like the idea of doing my check in during the middle of the month. *grin*

I’m off to a good start at the races. Three poems (including two newly written ones) have been sent off to a for-the-love market and I’ve written about 3,860 words of fiction, including work on Untitled Werewolf Novel, a section of the Fay Fairburn story for [info]therealljidol, and the start of a new short story for the Awesome Anthology. So, I’m feeling good on the writing front.

In terms of physical endeavors, I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with the yoga every morning. I’ve only missed a few days. I also got a walk in there and an ill-fated attempt at ice skating (no falls, but the skates temporarily screwed up my feet in a rather painful way). Already my body is feeling better from the little I’ve been doing, which equals awesomesauce.

Thinks to do in the coming month:

  • Get another 3000 words down on Untitled Werewolf Novel.
  • Complete the LJ Idol prompts (i.e. Fay Fairburn chapters) as they come up, which is necessary if I want to stay in the competition.
  • Finish draft zero of the new short story.
  • Write two new poem drafts.
  • Edit and submit “White Noise”
  • Put “Shaking Hands” up on my website
  • Create and post a youtube video
  • Keep up with the yoga.
  • Buy a house plant and frame the art I have in an effort to make apt more homey.

How are you doing in approaching your goals for the new year?

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Turkey and Pecan Pie and Writing and Writing and Card Games

I had a lovely, relaxing four day weekend with my family. In addition to a full weekend of fabulous food (half of which was gluten free) — candied yams, leftover turkey sandwiches, leftover turkey soup, cookies, brownies, and four different kinds of pie — we also participated in nightly rounds of 31 (a card game).

On Friday, we went to see The Muppets, which was fabulous. It was exactly what a muppet movie should be: fun, funny, wacky, and heartfelt. Also, “Am I a Man or a Muppet?” has to be the best song ever:

“Am I a man or am I a muppet?
If I’m a man that makes me a muppet of a man.
Am I a muppet or am I a man?
If I’m a muppet, then I’m very manly muppet.”

My whole family was singing this song and quoting from the movie for the rest of the weekend, and we are all in agreement that we want to own it.

When I wasn’t hanging out with the fam, I was on my computer either writing or being distracted from writing by the internets.

I’m currently at 26,700 words on my Untitled Werewolf Novel, which I’ve been trying to pound out in one go for Nano. I probably should have pushed myself a little harder on getting my word count up, but I kind of just let it be what it was in terms of progress. I have a right to have fun, too, and I did manage to get another 10,000 or so words down. I won’t be completing the Nano challenge this year, but I’m planning to keep working on the novel. Hopefully, I’ll manage to get draft zero completed by the end of December.

I am feeling fairly good about this Werwolf novel and there are some good scenes coming out. I can already tell that there is going to be some serious rearranging that’s going to have to take place in order to shift the emphasis on certain relationships and to make sure there’s conflict from page one. I’m not sure that I’m starting at the right place at the moment.

Draft zero writing is practically like outlining for me. Even though I have most of the novel planned out in my head, I spend most of my time figuring out who these people are and where they want to go. It become exploratory, which is an important step in the process. As I go along I insert notes into the text to help me know what I might want to change in previous chapters (such as putting more focus on the father-daughter relationship at the beginning).

In my next draft, I’ll be able to nail things down a little more solidly and will begin to share it with my writing gang.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

just because it's done, doesn't mean it's done

Current Project: The Witch of the Little Wood
New Words: 5,254 new words over three days, which was brought down to 3,614 words after editing
Current Total Word Count: 17,304!
Goal: Complete the story (this short story is definitely a novlette).

Random Rough Sentence(s): Devan’s body felt like it was made of lead, so heavy that she couldn’t move, so heavy that she was sinking into the couch, sinking past the cushions, snapping springs and cracking the wood frame.

Notes: I’m calling this draft of the story done, completed, in its entirety — more or less. When initially outlining the story, I had planned on ending it on another scene. However, when it came to writing that scene, it felt far too much like an epilogue or the start of a new story, so I left it alone.

I think my ending scene works, but I’m not in love with it.

At this point, I’m going to put it aside and work on something else. In a few weeks (probably after I get back from Australia), I’ll look at the whole beast and assess how everything fits together, whether the scene breaks work, and if the past/present jumps are cohesive. Right now, I’m feeling that it doesn’t, that it’s missing something vital, and that the resolution isn’t strong enough. I tend trust my gut in writing, though I have to be careful and not confuse “gut” with “anxiety” or “fear of failure”. I’m pretty sure that my gut is guiding me true, though, and that the story does need work. I want to try to submit to magazines as a short story, so that will probably mean trimming it a bit, too.

While I’m letting that simmer, I’ll be throwing together a retelling of Cinderella in short-short story format, as well as doing some outlining for the Untitled Werewolf Novel, which I’m planning to launch into.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Where My Writing's At

Current Project: The Witch of the Little Wood
New Words: ~4,000 new words in the last round of writing last week
Current Total Word Count: 13,690
Goal: Complete the story (this short story is turning into a novlette, I think).

Random Rough Sentence(s): Her hair was a nest of nettles, her skin gouged and wrinkled bark, her eyes the green of light pooling through leaves.

Notes: I’ve managed to get through two climactic scenes (very fun to write) with one major confrontation left to write and then several scenes of resolution to round things out. (I also have a scene that needs to be added to the beginning in order to make the mom more sympathetic.) Hopefully I’ll be able to get through all of those before the next Writing Gang meeting in a couple of weeks. That way I would have the first draft done before I head off to Australia, giving me time to let things simmer.

Writing a story that jumps between a past event and present events is an interesting process, because while the past influences and must reflect in the present scenes, it also has its own arc and own climax. I’ve been going back and forth between the past and present as I write, which has allowed me to discover parallels between the two arcs, which is kind of cool, but it also is a cause of anxiety for me because I’m not entirely sure the past and present mesh as well as they should (though my Writing Gang assures me otherwise). I guess I just have to get the whole thing written, so I can look at it in entirety and see what works and what doesn’t. The joy of revision.

The feedback I’ve been getting from the Gang has put a whole other idea in my head for this story, namely that it could be easily stretched into a novel — which has my head spinning. I had not thought of it before, but as soon as they said it, the idea started to germinate and now I have notes for starting to expand it. Making it novel is a scary concept, though, because it’s such a bigger work. It would require completely restructuring everything (the past/present alternation wouldn’t work, for example) and adding a litany of new characters and figuring out just who the Bear is and what he wants as my potential alternate villain.

So, in the meantime, I’m going to focus on finishing the story as a story, in the hopes of submitting it to various magazines (though there aren’t many that will accept this kind of length).

Other Projects in the Works:

The Untitled Werewolf Novel has been put on hold for the time being, while I work on “The Witch of the Little Wood” having settled firmly into the pre-planning stage. Don’t worry it’s not going to live there. My plan is to start getting chapters onto the page as soon as I finish the Little Wood short story. The Werewolf Novel keeps popping up every now and then tugging at my sleeve with new scene ideas and character arcs, so I won’t be able to ignore it for long.

I also have a couple of poetry manuscripts to work on. Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press is holding a chapbook competition, and it occurred to me that I have 10-20 pages of poetry that I could submit. I’ve been gazing at poetry chapbook competitions for a while now, thinking that I should submit to one, but haven’t felt like my work was cohesive or up to par enough to submit. Now I think I just might have a collection that would work — maybe.

You know those letter-poems I’ve been writing for the 30 Day Letter challenge that I never finished… well, I need to finish it, because I’ve been talking with the rather fabulous collage artist Jill Allyn Stafford about putting together a book that combines her art made out of international envelopes with my letter-poems. We’re both stoked on the idea (even though we’re not sure what publishers to approach about this sort of thing). First, I need to get those poems written.

And because I don’t have enough projects going on, there’s the Not-so-Secret Screenplay. I got an email about a script competition from Script Magazine, in which you have to come up with a script idea for a logline (which is: “After waking to find his wife dead in their backyard, a man conducts his own investigation and uncovers the hidden life of a woman he thought he knew.”) and submit the 15 pages.

Of course, instead of thinking, gee, I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, I think, gee, I can work with that, and my mind immediately started trying to put a supernatural spin on the story. So, yeah, now I’ve got a screenplay idea kicking around my head along with everything else. Deadline for the 15 pages is August 30th … we’ll see if I can pull it off.

[Cross posted to my livejournal.]