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Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

February 26, 2010 1 comment

After an intense writing blitz, I finished my short story, revised it, and sent it on its way. It took hours. And hours. I far surpassed the 60 minutes a day I’ve been aiming for. On Sunday night, I worked for over three hours. On Monday, a full 90 minutes, on Tuesday, Wednesday and today I put in two hours a day.

All of that time spent was due mainly to the fast-approaching deadline. It was a strain, but I wanted to meet this mini goal. I wanted to do more than just finish a story – I wanted to polish it to the point where I felt it was worth spending the $5 to send it out for others to read and critique. I know that the story could have been better with more time, but it is what it is.

Two interesting notes cropped up over the revision process. My wife, who has been a rock for me throughout this process, read the story twice and smothered it in comments. Many professional writers advise against having loved ones read unpublished work. They fear that it will cause more tension than anything else. I found it to be a tremendous help though, and I don’t think that my wife is ready to kill me yet. She did, though, say that it was very hard to know how others will see the story because she was so involved in its creation from the beginning that she was unable to read it as a reader. She could only see it as an editor, and could not fully gage the sheer entertainment value and storytelling charm of the piece. That’s why I chose the literary journal I did. My story will get a blind reading and will be returned to me (in three months) with commentary. I hold little illusions about the likelihood of publication, but I hope to grow from the commentary.

The other point of interest is a bit less heady. Over the course of writing the story, each day I would save it as a new file, so that I could go back to older versions if needed. I enjoyed watching the size of those files slowly grow over time. The first day, the file was 11 kb. Day two saw the document more than double to 23 kb. By draft 11 – the day that I finished the full telling of the story – the document was 87 kb. The file that I printed and mailed today was 79 kb. The steady rise, then the slight fall, in the file size is exactly the pattern I hoped to see. My daily regimen yields slow but consistent progress, and the editing process reduces the file size because I’m cutting the worst 10%-15% of the content before the piece is submission-worthy.

For now, I’ll take the next two days off to celebrate my daughter’s 5th birthday. On Sunday I’ll return to my novel. I am excited to get back to that story.

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Plan of Attack

February 8, 2010 1 comment

I’m fast realizing that updating this blog daily is not going to be feasible – especially on the weekends when it seems the days disappear before I have time to get even a few words down. I’ll update frequently though, dear reader, and promise to keep plugging away on my 60 minutes a day with or without a post (I know that you are tremendously concerned that I will not).

The last few days have been rough on the writing front. The hurdle: a submission deadline that I thought was not until March 31 is actually on March 1, so I have about two weeks to get a short story all prepped. The outline for that story is set, and the characters are established in my mind, but the actual writing is only just getting underway. I need about 2,000 words to meet the journal’s requirements.

I’ve put the novel on hold until I get this short piece done, then. It’s not an ideal situation. I wanted to finish the first two chapters before I set the novel aside for a rest, thinking that the story and characters needed to blossom a bit before I left them for something else. I don’t want to lose the impetus on the novel, because I have faith that it can be a publishable piece. But if I’m honest with myself I realize that the novel has been in my head for at least three years, and a two week hiatus is not going to do any irreparable harm to my ability to tell the story.

The challenge of the short story is that it is for a far different reader than my YA novel. I am attempting to develop a more mature voice for this submission, and have found that in doing so I’m over thinking the whole process. I am getting bogged down and am feeling the story stall.

I’ve resolved to stop all hemming and hawing on the artistry of the piece for now and get the plot out and the characters developed. After I put this post up, I’m going back to the story and will put in another solid 30-60 minutes to try to get up to 1,000 words or so before bed. Using the outline as a guide, I think that’s an achievable target. The short term plan is to have the story done by Friday in (very) rough draft form. I’ll polish it for a week and send it on its way. I’m sure I won’t feel that the story got its due once the envelope is mailed, but at least I’ll have completed the whole drafting/revising/re-drafting/editing/submitting process.

On a side note, my wife has been plucking white hairs out of my head for the last 6 days. I’m 31. This is a frightful development. I’m not ready to blame the writing, though. The white hair probably got much more to do with the MSU basketball team.

Right?

525,600

January 26, 2010 3 comments

I saw “Rent” too many years ago, but I can still remember the first time I heard the song “Seasons of Love.” It’s a great song, if a little thick on the Broadway schmaltz. I like it best because, thanks to its lyrics, I now always know exactly how many minutes are in a year.

That matters to me today, because I’m starting a bit of an intimidating journey. It’s a journey that I’ve been planning for a few months, that I should have started long ago. It will be lonely and painful and unheralded. It might not be rewarding. It won’t be lucrative. It will be worth it.

I hope.

The journey will take exactly 525,600 minutes. It starts in the dark, in the back office of a journalism classroom in central Michigan, a week after the biggest snowstorm in decades. I hope that it will continue on into a dark warehouse in Sarnia, Ontario; a farmer’s market in Lansing, Michigan; a ferry-boat in Genoa, Italy.

The plan is simple: I will write every day for one hour. I will blog about the experience here. I will try to get published, but I will focus on the craft – not the business.

I started today. I found an empty computer lab on the second floor of DeWitt High School, I turned off my cell phone, I set an on-line stopwatch to count down from 1:00:00, and I wrote. The results: 764 words, 2.5 pages, and the prologue to a novel that has been in my head for three years.

I was excited for today. I wanted to be able to call myself a writer. I wanted to see if I had what it takes to get all these thoughts on the page. I do. Or, at least, I did today. The excitement melted, turned to nervousness as the computer booted up, boiled into a flurry of words, and has reduced down to a simmering apprehension now. What will I think tomorrow when I look back at what I wrote? What if my great idea is crap on the page? What if all the planning and excitement is emptiness? Why do I sound like a self-loathing, angst-ridden beatnik when I’m only 85 minutes into this process?

Those are rookie fears on opening day, and I need to get past them. I wouldn’t have started this process if I didn’t think it would be a valuable addition to my life.

Besides, I’ve read the first half of “Twilight.” I’ve seen five adverbs in one sentence of a best seller. If that can get published, then so can I.

I have 525,515 minutes to make it happen.