Friday, January 27, 2012

Moving Right Along...

After the last post, I started thinking about what might help make writing a priority rather than something to be done "if school work is done, if the baby is asleep, if I'm not distracted, if if if..." and I thought a writing group was the answer. I did a LOT of writing in the fall, after all, when deadlines abounded and a workshop loomed on the horizon. So I wrote a whole lovely post about how I would definitely, if I remembered, and could find the right one, join some sort of writing group at some very near point in the future. Then I deleted the post and joined a damn writing group. Score one for not procrastinating.

Our first meeting was last night and my hopes were probably unrealistically high. When I arrived, I realized I may have made a minor mistake. Because this crowd is not my audience. One person had never heard of the fantasy genre, and the rest do not read it. Some admitted they actively dislike it. Naturally, the comments that followed were mostly less than helpful. That I misuse the prologue, that I should have chapters of explanation before anything happens since we're in a strange world, etc. Most of the suggested changes would alienate and bore a fantasy reader (and me, in the process, which is always dangerous), so a lot of it just won't do. 

Conclusion? While this writing group might be a good fit for short stories (if I ever get one written), it looks like I'm still in the market for a group that can give me genre-appropriate feedback on the big project. 

Bright side? I wrote and polished a prologue and first chapter, which I likely wouldn't have done without the deadline. So, still, score one for the writing group. And maybe score two, because they were all nice people and reading their writing was nice, too.

I hope find another group soon. I also hope to develop a working writing space that's conducive to getting things done. I really want that to be the office at home, but I guess only time will tell. That is as much to do with my family's cooperation and support (which thus far have been phenomenal, but perhaps too loose regarding interruptions -- my own fault for not stressing how a good moment can be shattered by a non-essential break) as my own organization and backbone in requiring what is necessary. If it doesn't work, I hope there is a babysitter and a coffee shop out there with my name on them. Others have written better books with far less cooperative atmospheres. I'm sure of that.

As far as books go, I've finished a whopping ONE. That would be Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf. It was interesting, though I think I would have hated it without the class discussion to back it up. Is that strange? I enjoyed the second half of the novel much more, as I read it with ideas in mind. I have also started Mrs. Dalloway which I've enjoyed more than Jacob's Room. But more on that later! This weekend is stretched thin. Besides finishing Mrs. Dalloway, I need to create discussion questions and a critical presentation for Tuesday. Lots to do!

'Til next time.
-- Meg

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Because it's January.

Well, this could be a bad idea.

But that's the best way to start a new year, isn't it? Set lofty goals and watch them sink into something between your high hopes and what you might have done had you never set them at all. Thanks in part to Beka's 50 books, 50 pounds blog-o-goals...I'll give it a try. Even if a blog has the potential to partially derail my productivity hopes, it might keep me (mostly) honest too, eh?

So here they are. Goals I'm developing as I type.

1. Finish an ENTIRE first draft of the first book in The Account of Verdi Mier (formerly known as The Project -- or my obsession). In my ten or so years of fumbling around with the story, I have been master at getting close to a draft and then going batshit crazy on book three or four...and then changing the foundation of everything, necessitating the complete deletion of...well, everything. Not so anymore. I have a firm grasp on the world of my characters now and I need to trust that I've grown enough as a writer to hold on to what I'm creating. So. One big, shiny draft. Before November. (NaNo is NOT the time to be polishing a draft.)

2. What the hell? 40 books. For class, for fun, for growing as a reader and writer.

3. To feel in shape. I'm not setting a number. Given the great likelihood that I'll get pregnant and muck the numbers up completely, there's little point. But I do hope to consciously get back to that golden period where Ryan and I were actively cooking healthy meals and making an effort to move our asses occasionally. Sluggish body = sluggish mind, and with goals 1 & 2 I can hardly afford THAT.

I think that's more than enough.

Current progress:

I'm still working on my draft, which I consider a win. It's so easy to get knocked completely off path when things get busy. And I did, for a while. But lately I've found my moments to sneak off and explode into scene. Typically right after a shower or right after I've tried to go to bed. My characters like to yell at each other in my head while I'm in the shower, and while I'm lying in the dark trying to sleep. Any day I can transfer that to the page I consider a win. This, of course, does not equal structured scenes or chapters...which is my next hill to climb. I have a great chapter map complete with note cards pinned to a bulletin board. I have crossed into over-organized territory. It's time to identify holes, issues, and problematic junk and start revising NaNo's efforts. I hope by next post I'll be able to say I've done more of that.

For books, I'm off to a slower start. Jacob's Room is a bit of a mind-slam. I find Woolf interesting, and I think the style was great for "An Unwritten Novel" but in a (written - ha) novel, it's a cumbersome and somewhat confusing. I can only handle a chapter at a time right now. I might start Boneshaker or The Difference Engine soon. I've been craving steampunk lately, and either would do. Not until I'm a little ahead of the game on class reading, though.

I think I'll leave it there for now!

Until next time...

-- Meg