Taking Up the Gauntlet, or I’m Going to Do It!

Cordelia Chase

My second favorite Cordelia inspired this post...Image via Wikipedia

I recently read how one of my favorite bloggers, the awe-inspiring Cordelia of Cordelia Calls It Quits was challenging herself to write the first draft of her novel this year. After all, when are you ever going to be “ready” to do it? When are you going to have “time”? Carpe Diem, and all that jazz.

I’ve been thinking about my writing goals for this year, and a few things stick out. I have some great short stories and the beginnings of novels and memoirs laying everywhere, as well as the marriage kits interviews that I want to turn into a free eBook someday (I’m still debating free, but love is free, so why not teaching to love, right?). All of these wonderful things, but nothing finished, or even fully realized.

 I don’t know where I’m going with many of the projects and haven’t made any plans. I’ve been telling myself I want to build up my blog following first. I want to pull all of my blogs together on one self-hosted website. I want to procrastinate take my time and play around build my following. But the following isn’t developing fast enough. But whatever happened to “build it and they will come?”

So, I’m building. Piece by piece, throughout this year. I’m joining Cordelia in writing. Only, I have so many projects, what to focus on? I don’t want to end up with just a first draft, needing revisions, proofing, and a coat of spackle before I can begin the long, arduous process to publication. Yet, I want to set some hard and fast, no wiggle room writing goals for this year. So where do I start?

Here’s a list of the projects and what I plan on doing:

  • Candy Apples–the only story I’m giving the real name of. This is the close to being finished, as it was for a class that required me to do a major revision. It just needs some spiffing up and can be sent out.
  • The Art Story–very good portrait of an (sometimes) unapologetic promiscuous artist that needs major revisions to the end. I sent it out to a contest and was politely dismissed. Promising but needs work.
  • The Boots Story–seriously has little to do with boots. I just lost steam on this, but I have a few ideas I want to play around with. This is the last short story I will work on, because I just don’t have an idea what will happen.
  • The Vandalism story–I had to rework a major hinge point of the action. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and had an “epiphany” that turned out to be 3am delirium.
  • The College Memoir–I had this brilliant idea to write about my year between my junior and senior year. It was supposed to be a very inspiring memoir about overcoming fear of failure and obstacles, and learning to learn in the real world (real world as classroom was very big in my head that year…a survival mechanism, I think). I got as far as coming up with a snazzy list of chapters and subjects, including one about how David Boreanaz saved my life (no, I’m not telling; you’ll have to read the book!). I have some notes from then as well. Really want to do this, but haven’t much to work with yet. Need to plan it.
  • There’s another memoir idea floating in the darkness. I just can’t remember it right this second…(darn it; stalling didn’t work…grr)
  • 1st novel in progress (Southern Gothic Novel, for now)–I started this in college; had a professor who really liked it and really encouraged me to finish it. He told me I wrote like Toni Morrison (not the first time I’ve heard that; not sure is compliment or joke, as he knew I didn’t really like her work). I have 40 pages, at lest 30 of which are absolutely perfect. I’ve tried to take it in several directions, but other projects intervened. Am going to write this novel. Will be best of present works.
  • 2nd novel attempt (A Blues for Zora, for now)–was supposed to be a short story but is shaping up to be jazz and friendship centered novel of great importance. Has the best name I’ve ever come up with for a club, the best club owner in history, a strong narrative voice…and threatened to go all Harlem Nights on me, so I stopped while it was still good. Have to plan this one more.
  • 3rd novel attempt (Class Reunion, for now)–NaNoWriMo chick lit attempt. Strong characters and panic inducing subject (more so as my own class reunion keeps approaching faster and faster). I feel comfortable putting this one off the longest, as the characters are solid and jump right back into action the minute I focus on it.

So, the plan is to finish the short stories, plan out the memoirs further, get serious writing done on 1st novel attempt (using newly acquired crappy first drafts are OK as long as I get the bare bones on paper mentality), plan 2nd novel attempt, and temporarily shelve 3rd novel attempt. As for the marriage kit interviews, they will continue as soon as I pick up my digital recorder tomorrow (yay!). I will meet with minister to help me flesh out idea for free eBook to save the institution of marriage.

This is what I came up with yesterday instead of actually doing any of this. I’m hoping to do better today. Check back for updates on my progress, sprinkled into my writing rants, book reviews, and all things writing and reading!


The Gift of Confidence

Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...

One of these days, I'll at least have a writing desk like this! Image via Wikipedia

I again sat and read the beginning of my NaNoWriMo novel (which is in need of a better working title) this past week. I was expecting to be bombarded with mistakes and plot holes, to be blindsided by changes in tense, and to find that the way I manipulated time in the story was confusing instead of opening up the possibilities of what could be done with the story. I wasn’t expecting to find much useable material.

As I sat on my floor (still need that writing desk/computer desk), editing my work in the reading mode of Microsoft Word, I was pleasantly surprised to find there were many strong points in the story. Even though I’d felt I had a good story as NaNoWriMo was underway, I expected to feel differently about the writing once the rush was over. I didn’t have an excessive amount of filler words that were written just to meet the requirements (which is probably part of the reason I fell short). It gave me a boost of confidence in my writing to see how well it’s held up to proofreading.

Even though I’d promised myself not to proofread until I actually finished a first draft, I’m glad I broke my promise. I know now that there’s a reason to continue. I didn’t do any extensive editing, just fixed a few typos and let the material stand as; I suppose this was an effort to compromise with myself over editing.

On a sad note, one of the pages of the handwritten draft is missing. It’s a page I hadn’t transcribed yet. Hopefully a good organizing of paperwork will yield the missing page. I hate when I misplace pages and have to recreate things. Either I don’t remember what is missing or I can’t recapture the magic of the moment. It’s much easier to get the jist of a thing down and craft it out of this rough material than it is to start from scratch with only a general idea of what the jist might have been.

It’s going to be easier for me to go forward with my writing goals in this new year because I’ve restored a bit of my confidence in my writing. I’ll share my writing goals with you as it gets closer to the New Year. I hope everyone finds the courage and the confidence from somewhere to continue to persevere in their writing.