Monthly Archives: February 2015

At Home Revisions, Competitions and Coursework

004-stock-photo-n

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted. My time has been spent taking care of work.

I’ve been hip-deep in revisions. Thanks to one of my local writing groups’ February challenge, Dreamie’s Box is on track to be finished soon and on its way out the door in March. Along with that novel are much shorter pieces, undergoing the editing process for competitions.

Contests/competitions come in all shapes and sizes. Some provide a literary agent as part of the prize package. Others stock-photo-24have hefty monetary prizes. All have purpose and rewards–even those little ones that provide only copies of your work and online recognition to your peers.

Ultimately, though, the grand prize for each competition is the writer’s knowledge that the time spent has gone toward a worthwhile purpose. New or refurbish—hitherto unpublished—material has left the computer drive and been read by someone else. For many, that’s a huge step.

Another purpose is one of confidence building. The act of sending out a story, poem, article, or what have you builds another layer of confidence in one’s ability to stick with a writing goal and complete it.

One of the major truths that smacked me in the head a few weeks ago is this.

The reason I write isn’t for fame or fortune. I would write if no U.S.A.one ever read a word I’d put on paper. But, aside from that inherent need to put thoughts and feelings into words, I simply want to know that at least one other person has read my work. If they like it, that’s a bonus. If they don’t and they let me know why, I’ve learned something important. I win either way.

To that effect, I’m preparing manuscripts to go out. Chapbooks, poetry, short stories, and flash fiction all come under the editing pen.

Three pieces are due to go out within the next two weeks. Two more are slated for the end of March and another for April. The investment of time and a tiny fee are worth the wait to learn whether one’s writing is prize quality in its specific completion with its specific judges.

If a prize has my name on it at the end is, in many ways, irrelevant. I’ve met a goal, had at least one reader, made at least one impression, and furthered my writing experience.

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction WorkerAs for the coursework, I have three active writing courses in which to indulge. I wrangle stories for those courses and get to use them for publication or competition. I’ve always been a big believer in dual-purpose work.

One of those courses is strictly for flash fiction. With burgeoning markets for much shorter fiction, this avenue is also one of the most technically demanding. And it’s a competitive form I’ve placed in before.

Another course is for serial short fiction—short story to novella length. The demands here are also a major challenge. The writer begins with a whole world plot line that would normally extend to three or more volumes in length. It’s then segmented into a series of complete episodes. Each episode must further the overall plot line while telling a separate, shorter plot line with one or more of the entire story’s major characters.

The third course works only with character development and utilization. You can see where these three work together to build an overall writing experience and a unique opportunity to work in multiple genres and publishing avenues.

Happy Girl Making A Wish And Making BubblesFor now, that’s enough for me. So, tell me–what are you up to and why? Share your story in a comment.

 

 

Stepping Out with a Progress Plan

Girl Asleep On Her Notebook Computer

 

In January, Progess was my by-word Then, my “Write All Year” write-in group kicked off its February writing challenge on Sunday. We organized ourselves at the end of 2013 after NaNoWriMo. We chose to meet once a month, every month, to write as we would during a NaNo session. Soon, the meetings moved to every two weeks instead, because we were having such a grand time and getting valuable work done.

So it has remained since then. October and November, 2014 saw us gathered each week again, for the annual writing frenzy that is NaNoWriMo. During our first meeting of this year, our fearless leader proposed that we do another writing challenge—a smaller one than in November.

What was it? Write 15K words (500 words per day) during February. And if we had other work we needed to revise, we could choose to do 30 hours of revision instead. Color me a happy camper. I had several manuscripts hanging around waiting for attention.

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction WorkerOn Sunday, I did 4.5 hours of revision. It wasn’t that it was difficult, but rather that it was at the beginning of the book and the trick was to remember all those things that came later in the story and to make sure I didn’t flush myself down a rabbit hole in the process. Today, another two chapters got revised and ready for a final edit. The plan is to do two chapters per day until it’s finished. That’s real progress.

There isn’t much new writing to get down, but there’s a ton of revision needed. And that’s just one novel. It may not sound like a lot, but my goal is to have this thing done by the end of the month and ready for the copywriter the first week in March. After that it’ll go to a formatter or shopped to an agent. I haven’t decided which yet.

Considering what I’ve gone through in these past months with burn-out, this was a bold step for me. But, it was a doable step. It helped hold concentrated focus, to keep scattered aspirations from hijacking my goals. It’s created order out of chaos—a much needed helper.

stack-of-books-on-white-background-vector-illustration_z1m6_xvdSimultaneously, additional study time was allotted, as well as a more defined work day. There’s less chance of overlooking the need to do a blog post. Other, less demanding work, can find time slots throughout the day when other work ends; writing guest posts, writing for competition, or collating a chapbook of flash fiction/poetry, for instance.

Small projects, like those mentioned above, take time, but they don’t have to be done in one fell swoop. The work can get parceled out over weeks, if necessary. That’s what will happen here for me. I finally got the point. I’m not in a race with anyone—not even myself.

For now, this is what’s happening for me. What do you have on the docket for yourself this month? What grand plan have you put in play to get you through until March? Tell me about it in a comment. I’m interested to know how you work and what you work on. Communication is a two-way street.

‘Til next week, or sooner if something really cool happens, keep doing what makes you happy and share a smile with someone who needs one. Sharing goodwill doesn’t cost anything.