August goals

Talkin’ ain’t doin’

Here it comes: actual, concrete goals to hold myself to. I’ll have to start with arbitrary numbers as I get back into the swing of things, and adjust as I go along. Naturally, I’ll try to push myself harder.

In terms of writing, I’d like to have a new novel outlined before August is up. That gives me three weeks, so I’ll set myself a goal of ten chapters outlined per week.

Revision is a little harder. I’m due for another reread of Yggdrasil to see what needs editing, cutting, and where new material needs to be fitted in. I can manage a reread in one week, then a second look over another week to target problem areas.

Of course, I’ll want to make hokey index cards to put on my corkboards to illustrate my progress with these goals. It helps to have them there, staring at me at all times.

I’ll be back next week with updates on my progress!

 

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Momentum

The excitement of receiving my proofs has provided great momentum for tackling the first revision of my novel. I’ve made it through 15 chapters so far, and expect to continue at this pace until I reach the end.

There are few pages that don’t have some sort of mark on them. I’m not specifically trying to find something wrong on each page, I just want to find as much as I can. I expect that once I get to the end of the book, though, I’ll have to go through again; none of my notes so far have anything to do with pace or plot points. I’ve printed up a table of contents with enough space to write notes about each chapter, weighing the level of conflict, if the chapter is necessary to the story or to a character’s development, if the chapter serves some other purpose or should be cut entirely. These are the notes I can’t seem to fit into the margins.

I’m finding it less difficult than I expected to ignore awkward phrasing and typos, though sometimes they make me laugh or smile in the train. My favorites so far are writing “probably” when I meant “probability” and a scene that contains a “conversational silence”. Such things happen when flying at a breakneck pace through a first draft. These types of errors will be addressed at the very end, if the words make the cut. No sense getting bogged down with spelling and semantics if they’re just going to be changed anyway.

tomodachi yggdrasil

One thing my first draft lacks is physical description of the characters. Over the course of writing the first draft, I came to have a good idea of what they looked like. Since I’ve been playing Tomodachi Life on the 3DS, I decided to create each of my characters on the island as Miis. It’s very silly, but I have a graphical representation of things like hair and eye color, height, and dress, to a certain extent; as a joke, I gave Kandace a captain’s uniform and Wendell a pair of pajamas.

Tomodachi Life also lets you program the personality of each islander with five axes: slow-quick (movement), polite-direct, flat-varied (expressiveness), serious-relaxed and quirky-normal. I feel like I know my characters pretty well by now, but this could be a useful barometer for determining whether certain actions or utterances are out-of-character.

Finally, I spent last week exchanging e-mails with the Ellie Augsburger of Creative Digital Studios, who is wonderfully prompt and professional and friendly with replies to inquiries. I paid a deposit and signed a contract last weekend for a book cover design. She sent me an image today of what she’s got so far, which has got me pretty excited. I want to stare at it a bit and mull it over before I get back to her with ideas for changes. I only get two more rounds of proofs at my quoted price, I want to make them count.

Fears about projects

Almost everything I have written was intended to eventually become a book. Yet when I used to refer to my writing, I would always call it a story or a project because I didn’t think I was serious enough to say, “I’m writing a book.” As though somehow, my dream of being published prevented me from calling anything I was working on a book, because a book isn’t really a book if it’s unpublished, right?

Now I’ve come to understand how that’s crap, how belittling my own work can lead to me taking it less seriously. There’s plenty of people in the world who will want to knock me down, I shouldn’t give them a head start by doing some of it myself.

I am a writer, because I write. Yes, I am unpublished, but I’m working on changing that. I am literally a few chapters away from finishing my first ever rough draft of a book. A real book with something like 300 pages. Perhaps I’ll soon discover that 300 manuscript pages is really tiny for a book, but during the mad rush of NaNoWriMo I found myself not having time to put in some things I meant to, little things like descriptions here and there, glimpses into characters’ pasts, and so on. During revision, I’ll get to find where best to insert those lost words.

I’ve never done serious revision of a long work before, and I am equal parts excited and afraid. I also feel relief when I think about NaNoWriMo’s “Now What?” months starting in January. They were so instrumental in keeping me motivated during November, so I hope it will be more of the same starting in the New Year.

Either way, 2013 is going to be the year I finished my first book. Rough draft of a book. Bah, semantics.