February 20, 2010

Musings

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I love my iBook and wouldn’t trade it for anything — well, except perhaps a bright, shiny new MacBook Pro like the one a couple of my NARWA sisters have. 😀

However, I’ve discovered something this week: I still like writing things out longhand, with a spiral-bound notebook and a smooth-writing Pilot G-2.

I was at Starbucks Tuesday. Not planning on being there long enough to set up the laptop, I instead whipped out a notebook and started writing. Nearly an hour later, I realized I’d filled several pages.

Now, I’ve practically given up writing with a pen and paper when it comes to my manuscripts. I write at the computer … like most of you do, I’m sure. It’s easier to edit, and when I’m on a roll, I can get a lot more accomplished via typing than handwriting.

Plus, there’s the problem that my handwritten pages are sometimes too messy to read, thanks to too many years of scribbling madly to get people’s quotes down during interviews. My writing started deteriorating in college and continued on the job. Now, sometimes I look at a page and there’s a mere scribble where a word should be. If I’ve waited too long to transcribe my notes, I have to guess at what was said …

Luckily, my writing tends to be just a little neater when I’m not taking notes. Still, I have to watch it. When I get on a roll, it gets progressively messier. At least I usually get to transcribing it within a day or two, before I’ve forgotten what I was trying to say.

Why do I consider that lucky? Because I’ve realized there’s something about writing it out by hand. The way the pen glides over the paper, leaving behind  words as long-lasting as you want them to be is somehow satisfying.

Plus, it is easier to pull out a notebook and pen than it is to pull out the computer, start it up and open your word processing program. By the time you do all that, you could have written a quarter-page! 😉

What to do, what to do?

I’m at a bit of a loss again. After writing more than 1,000 words on Meg and Matt’s story yesterday, I’ve hit a block. If I take a page of advice from the “write quickly and often” book, I’ll sit down and make myself write something — anything.

But maybe I should continue working on my new synopsis for “Operation Snag Mike Brad” — the one that puts more emphasis on the conflict (you know, the one that may or may not actually exist in the story. I’m trying. It really does have more conflict than it used to.)

I’m not sure it’s worth sending out more queries on that one until I resolve the conflict issue.

Or perhaps I should do something else altogether. “Blind Date Bride” needs a query letter and synopsis. I’m thinking about taking an online synopsis-writing class that starts in March, though … so maybe I should wait on that.

This is the story of my life these days: I seem to have a short attention span. I can’t settle down to any one project. Yet I need to keep making progress on my Word Count Club goal. I don’t want to be the one to fail.

I also need an editor’s note for the next NARWA newsletter. I’m thinking my topic will be … drumroll, please … rejection. I’ve certainly handled enough of it lately to consider myself an expert! 😉

I didn’t get much writing done this weekend, opting instead to spend a romantic weekend with the Boyfriend. I did, however, get the chance to do a little reading.

The February issue of RWR contained an intriguing article titled “Speed as an Antidote to Writer’s Block.” The gist is that writing quickly — and regularly — helps us beat that devil procrastination.

Since I often find myself afflicted by that particular demon, I paid particular attention to that article. (In fact, it’s still the only thing from the issue I’ve read word-for-word. I’ve skimmed the rest, but not settled in to digest it yet.)

The article points out that speed writing is done:

  • Without a lot of distractions, such as the Internet or reading back through a MS to “check” facts.
  • Simply, as opposed to being a perfectionist looking for quality above all else.
  • To be shared. Apparently, fast writers share their drafts ASAP, seeking feedback. A perfectionist, on the other hand, will revise, revise, revise (or stop writing at all) rather than let someone else read their “weak” effort.

Over the years, I’ve been more the perfectionist type. I stop writing when I hit that wall … and sometimes don’t go back to it for months.

Participating in the NaNo last November really helped me see the benefits of speed writing, though. I might not have written as quickly as the others (I never once won the “word wars” we had at write-ins), and I didn’t finish all 50,000 words.

But sitting down to write almost daily did help me get a lot accomplished, and I was able to ride that writing high to the end, finishing my story in early December, shortly after the end of NaNo.

So you have my pledge now that I’ll do the NaNo again this fall. I already have a plot marinating in my head for it, something I started working on after my NARWA group did a “Book in a Month” talk a couple of years. (I stalled out in the research stage, around Day 6, because I’m not much of a researcher anymore.) I do, however, have a basic outline for the story, which stars one of Brad’s brothers … Brad being the hero in this year’s GH entry, the one that apparently STILL doesn’t have enough conflict.

Until then, I’m going to keep  plugging away on “Operation Treat Writing Like a Day Job.” Right now, that seems to be enough to keep me writing, so why mess with success?

February 12, 2010

Contests, OSNB, Stories

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Based on the contest feedback I got on “Operation Snag Mike Brad” today, there’s no way in hell it’s going to final in the Golden Heart.

Guess that means I don’t have to worry about coming up with $425 to pay for Nationals, eh?

I got scores back from a contest I entered right before I sent everything off for the GH. One judge gave me an 80 out of 100. The other two? 60 and 57.

I can buy 60’s assertion that there may not be enough conflict to sustain the story. (She should have seen it BEFORE I beefed up the conflict in one of my rewrites!)

However, I find 57’s comment that I don’t know how to use punctuation insulting. It reminds me of my freshman year of college when my World Cultures prof (who taught art history) tried to tell me I couldn’t write an essay.

I know punctuation, darn it. I’m a freakin’ copy editor for God’s sake. I may not do old-school punctuation, but what I do is perfectly acceptable in journalism. And I should think that if my punctuation was that darn bad, someone else would have pointed it out to me when they were proofing my GH entry for me.

Nary a peep, though. So I’m inclined to write that one off as ravings.

Guess I should be thankful that all my scores were at least a 2 (shows promise but needs improvement).

I’m sure I’ll be able to look back at the scores with more detachment later, so I can get more out of them. Next week … maybe next month … Right now, however, I’m still smarting.