Archive for November, 2008

The Excuse List

November 25, 2008

I haven’t looked at my book since Wednesday and probably won’t do so until at least next Tuesday (with the exception of jotting down lines of dialogue and thinking about some scenes).

But for good reason, as most excuses are.

I guess the main one is that I essentially reached my Thanksgiving day goal early and therefore did not need to rush to the writers room to work.

Then there is my child at home, my growing baby, my husband’s market imploding, my upcoming last hurrah girls trip, oh…and my mom is in the ICU in a third world country. I’ve been trying to get her back to New York and have been the emotional and informational pillar for the family. It’s been draining and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to board a plane tomorrow and tune out.

So, I’ve given myself a little vacation but I really want to stay on my target of getting the book in good enough shape to share with friends. But what is good enough? There are times I read my work and think it is all shit and other times I smile, impressed with what I accomplished. The silver lining is that I’ve heard all writers, even the most successful ones, go through these stages.

When I come back, I’ll still be pregnant, have a child at home, a husband whose market is imploding, a mother with cancer (but at least she’ll be in NY) and weather too cold to endure to walk to the writers room.

When I was pregnant last time with my daughter and was still working on the book, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and had surgeries and doctors’ appointments. My sister from South America came to visit and I was awfully tired. There were plenty of excuses not to be disciplined to write and unfortunately I indulged them.

So, I’m signing off, finishing packing, going to bed and won’t be writing for probably a week. But please, please, drop me a comment, show some love and encouragement. Help me stay on track. And if you can’t do that, say a little prayer for my mom. I’d rather her be healthy than be a published novelist (but I’d love her input on my font).

The end is near

November 20, 2008

Sort of. I did write the last remaining chapters of my book yesterday. Whoo hoo!

I know it’s far from perfect, but I did reach my goal of completing the novel before Thanksgiving. Some dialogue scenes need more action and perhaps reflection, the POV needs to be ironed out, and transitions added, but that’s all part of the editing process.

At this exact moment, I do not love the story as much as I did at other points in the process but I don’t hate it and while I am not eager to reread everything at this moment and make changes, I’m sure I will down the line.

I think it would behoove me to read similar styled books to see how they cope with some of the obstacles that I have, but I am confused about what category my novel falls into. I’d like to think to think it’s more than chick lit, but can I be so bold to hope that its women’s literature? What genre do breezy humorous books that don’t deal with relationships or assistants fall into?

Please tell me in the comment box. Let me know someone is reading this!

The Week of writing

November 17, 2008

After going to the doctor via a detoured subway and getting a flu shot by the time I went to the writers room, I was exhausted and per my doctor’s suggestion, I indulged. I rested my head and on my sweater and closed my eyes. When I awoke with a kink in my neck I was in no mood to write.

I promised myself that I would write this evening at home but it’s a struggle.

This week, I’ve scheduled writing time Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with the hopes that maybe I could build some momentum and stay in writer mode. Unfortunately, I’m not off to a good start.

Book Detours

November 13, 2008

I had my writers group yesterday and despite being incredibly exhausted by the time I arrived close to a half hour late (which was technically an hour late because my friend gave me the wrong time) I did gain some good feedback.

One of my concerns, the incessant presence of “Mona wondered” is less of an obstacle than I once imagined. Along with my Point of View frustrations, I am going to lay it to rest and revisit it during the post Thanksgiving Day edit (which may extend to post baby-baby edit).

As for the other concern of not expanding my characters’s worlds enough, I feel like there are too many scenes in the same places, well, it’s still a concern. I’m going to follow the group’s advice and right a morning in the life of Mona, without any of her friends or students around to distract her. Hopefully that will open some possibilities.

As far as the feedback on my submissions: well turns out one scene came across as more pivotal than I anticipated which means I will draw it out and move it to a little later in the book. At least as of right now.

A crying baby is calling me.

Dear Indecision

November 12, 2008

Here’s the Dear John letter per my writers group.

Dear Indecision,

It’s taken me some time to sit down and write this letter, and I am sure you know why. Yes, I did go back and forth, considering what I was sacrificing by writing this letter, and thought of other more pressing things to do before typing this note. I’ve thought a great deal about our relationship and while I can easily foresee a future with us together, I’ve decided to sever ties.

I know what you are thinking, have I considered the alternative? What if I make a bad decision, perhaps in haste? And I’m okay with that.

You’ve plagued me for too long, making me question my motives and the consequences for even the most banal of options. It really doesn’t matter what flavor of ice cream I chose. My life won’t change if I go to the 7pm or 8:30 movie. Nobody cares if I wear the black sweater with the blue jeans or the blue sweater with the black leggings. But you have led me to believe that it is significant, that each decision carries more importance that it really does.

I know I will miss you. When I’m face with Baskin Robbins 31 flavors or a diner’s eight-page menu or cannot decide what to wear to dinner, I will think fondly of our relationship and how we used to spend time agonizing over the right choice, the pros and cons of every option, exhausting every possibility. I’ve realized that I must make countless decisions on a daily basis and if I continue to let you into my life I will simply tread water as opposed to moving forward.

I’m approaching the end of the first draft of my book, and I’m sure you have a lot to say, or rather questions to ask (as you sometimes disguise your modus operendi) about decisions I have made for the story and the characters. And while I once welcomed the idea of exploring the different facets to sometimes absurd situations, you are not welcome to provide feedback. I cannot afford the energy or time to take this story in another direction.

We had a great run, even met a few people along the way who sympathized with our situation, but it’s over. I wish you luck and happiness.

PS You will be happy to know that I am sending a similar letter to procrastination and exhaustion shortly.

Dear John

November 11, 2008

Yesterday was quasi-productive at the writers room and I was supposed to go tomorrow but have my writers group instead. Our assignment was to write a Dear John letter to a person or thing. I have an idea of what I would like to write (and fortunately there is nothing good on television) and will then post.

I’m submitting to the group and am going to bounce some of my current writers questions to the crew (even though two will be absent).

Back to the Puking

November 7, 2008

As my internal Thanksgiving deadline approaches for completing a draft of my book, I find myself slowly reverting back to the puke draft mentality where I just try to get the basic story on paper.

I am already anticipating the editing that lays ahead, so why not just lay a foundation from start to finish for myself. It’s always easier to edit a crappy draft than a blank sheet of paper.

I’m currently at around 175 pages with other scenes written for later and an outline which I like enough.

Some of the problems that I am having (and would love ANY feedback if anybody is reading this)
– scenes. My main character is a tutor and I pretty much have her at her students’ apartments, her home, and her best friends. I think she needs to do more – I just don’t know what. Shopping? Nails? Something.

– I’m struggling with the POV and think I am using an omniscient narrator who observes other character’s thoughts. How often do I have to say, “Mona wondered” or “Mona thought” after stating her opinion? Is it implicit? Are there other ways to do that?

– There’s more, but these two come to mind now. Oh yeah, anyone have any thoughts on an MFA? that’s a post for later.

November Writing Opportunities

November 1, 2008

National Novel Writing Month ww.nanowrimo.org officially begins today and while I won’t be participating this year, my mind will consider the possibility of what would happen if I did.

I have yet to hanker myself down and commit to crank out a complete draft in thirty days, although the thought has clearly crossed my mind multiple times. There are the easy excuses of I don’t have time, I’m traveling for Thanksgiving, I don’t have a good story, etc. And then there are the more realistic ones like I am six and a half months pregnant, I have a thirteen month at home, and I am in the midst of my current novel, editing my way through to get a complete draft, which is coming along nicely, but not perfectly.

The puke draft, which I imagine is what one would accomplish by participating, is a great blue print used to hone and craft a sellable novel. And to crank it out in one month would be great.

A freelance writer friend of mine recently signed up and I say this with humility, there is a sliver of me that is jealous. I have been writing my book for so long and to think that she could bang out a novel in one month, regardless of quality, makes me feel possessive and, well, jealous. I suppose I should channel this competitive nature and get back to working on my novel.