Friday, April 30, 2010

Writing Goals

It's hard when you are working on your first novel* to know what is a reasonable amount of time in which to set your goals. There are people like Joyce Carol Oates who crank out amazing prose at a rate that makes normal humans just want to give up and crawl into a cave. There are other writers who taaake-theiiir-tiiiiime and either do or don't feel bad about it. I'm still trying to figure out where I fall on the writing speed continuum.

I had a hard writing month in April. Not sure why--the weather was glorious so I can't use the excuse of seasonal lethargy. But maybe I can blame the lilacs for distracting me! No, seriously. I went through a couple of weeks in which my writing self-esteem took a nose dive and I thought, with some degree of despair, that I'd have to chuck this baby out the window.

I'm still not quite sure how I dragged myself out of this pit. I cooked a little, I knit a little, I tried to remember that I'm not totally incompetent at everything I do.

Here's what I'm planning for the near future in the writing department:

Summer is going to suck as far as writing time goes. I'm looking forward to some of the stuff I have planned to do with my critters**, but realistically I'll probably only get one morning a week to really be able to write. That means that I need to have a good intact draft done by June 18th (the critter's last day of school and my 41st birthday) with an organized to-do writing list of stuff that could, conceivably, be done with half a brain while simultaneously officiating a super-squirter showdown (typing on the lap top through a clear plastic bag, perhaps). That means it is more important to crank out that missing chapter now than to dig through the first 10 chapters checking for contradictions. The latter is something I could conceivably do with the critters in the immediate vicinity--the former is not.

Also over the summer I am going to get over my fear that the first person who reads this will look at me with pity and say "This is how you've been spending your time?" So I'm starting safe with my dear husband whose continued gainful employment has allowed me the time to pursue this project (I am still in awe of the fact that he likes his job and they like him and, oh yeah, they PAY him too!). Then after him, I want to find some other people--critical readers, fellow writers--who can be my early readers. Anyone out there who is interested in reading and constructively commenting on my YA/Middle Grade (still not sure which) fiction with a fantasy bent?

After I spend the summer with the above two projects (working on the to-do list and absorbing feed back on the project) then in September and October I'll plan for a big overhaul.

Hopefully this will leave me with a submittable draft that I can shop around to agents and will leave my brain somewhat liberated so that in November I can do NaNoWriMo and work on a completely new book. Maybe a different genre or age range or even (gasp) non-fiction.

Aggg. It's scary just writing this stuff down because that means people will feel like they can ask me about the progress I'm making toward these goals. If you do see me, and venture to ask, and I turn pale and look like I'm going to faint, please administer beer. A nice hoppy IPA should bring me back around!

*Well, the first novel that I actually think I'll finish and try and pitch. There are at least two that I've started and worked on, one for a considerable amount of time, and then decided to chuck.
**Which is the topic of another post in which I will be trolling for ideas to add to my "how to stay sane and maybe even enjoy yourself" list.