Tuesday, November 30, 2010

25 days to finish

So in the beginning of the month I told myself that I would have book 4 finished by my birthday, which for those not in the know, is Christmas. Now, I glance at the calendar and see that December starts tomorrow. I look at my book, check the chapter and word count: 13.25 and 75,262 respectively. That means, based on my formula, I have 6.75 chapters and 24,738 words left to go, give or take a chapter and 5,000 words.

As a Capricorn and a writer I have to find a balance between my creativity and need for structure. I have a type A personality and need a plan. If I'm on vacation somewhere, throwing a holiday party or going camping I have plans and itineraries. I know, crazy. So in order for me to get a book written I had to have a plan. Your average novel is approximately 100,000 words, so I plan for my books to have 100,000 words. The average novel has 20 chapters, divide 100,000 you get 5,000 words per chapter. So if I write 1,000 words a day I get a chapter done a week. Now there is a new movement where chapters are anywhere from one page to ten, I could do that, but it would mess up my formula. I sucked at math in school, but this structure gives me a goal every day. Whats awesome about this goal is that I usually get more than a 1,000 words because I need to end at a point where I can pick up naturally the next day.

I know what you're thinking. "But Shauna, you've only got 4 weeks left! How are you going to get 6.75 chapters done in 4 weeks if you only get 1 chapter a week?!" Never fear my lovelies. Because I often get more than 1,000 words a day I can usually get 1.25-2 chapters done a week. Also, sometimes the books end before the magical 100,000/20 mark, and I'm fine with that. When I go back to edit/proofread, I may take out thousands of words or add thousands, it'll all balance out. A novel can be as short as 75,000 words, so really I'm at that mark now. Some of my books ended at chapter 19 and a prologue, that's cool too. And if I know my self-imposed deadline is looming then I'll write at night while the hubby is teaching or on the weekend if I can find the inspiration.

Thats the key though, you cant wait for inspiration. No matter what your creative outlet is, its still work and if you want it to get done you have to sit down and make it happen. But with the last few months I'm just happy I've been able to get my daily goals met. So while I have some time, I'm going to turn my attention that way.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

300 words

Dear Blog,
So I opened my book today to get some words down and try to find the voice of this book in my head again. Some two or three hours later I had 300 new words. That's it. That's only about three paragraphs since none of it was dialog.

I hate days like today. I knew it was going to be hard to get back into the groove of this book having taken four months off (I try not to think about the fact that if I hadn't walked away to proof read and edit my other manuscripts this one would be done by now), but I can usually bang out a least 1000 words in a day. That's about 4 pages depending on whether or not you have any dialog in there. It can be as much as 10 pages if its 1000 words of conversation. For a while there it was normal for me to get 2000 or more words a day. There were even those shining days that had 5000 words done. And today I managed to force out 300. I'd like to say that I'll get the other 700 words done, but its a gym day after work and I have to cook dinner after that and then spend time with the hubby and the dog. I don't like to write at night anymore. I used to when I was in college, that was the only time I had to write, but now that I'm a "grown up" I have to fit it in whenever I can and that's usually in the morning.

Because I work for my dad as an office manager I'm in front of a computer all day long when I'm not pouring over building plans. I don't take breaks and I usually don't take a lunch so I take that hour and a half to work on my writing when the phone's not ringing and the paperwork and bills are caught up. I don't feel any guilt about that because I'm not stealing company time. If my dad comes in from the field and spends the day in the office, he doesn't take breaks for anything so those days I can't even eat lunch at my desk while I pound on the keys.

Now there are those times when the book is alive in my head and the characters are running through a scene or a chapter and they don't care if it's the middle of the night and I have to get up at 6am. I've been known to get out of bed when the house is quiet and dark and walk out to my laptop and write a few thousand words so that my mind will go quiet and let me sleep. If I don't, I'll either lay awake in bed for hours - and as an insomniac I try not to cause this behavior for myself - or in the morning when I go to try and remember what I was thinking about and hearing in my mind will be gone. There could have been a pivotal moment in there for the story or some beautiful prose just waiting for a blank page and it'll be lost to me forever. Oh I'll get the gist of it, but the gist of something is never as remarkable.

I will say this about my 300 words, it finished the chapter and I finally got to see my main character perform a bit of magic I knew was inside of her all along. I just have to find that bit of magic inside of me again to get this book moving. My goal is to have the first draft finished by Christmas as sort of a little birthday present to myself.

Here's hoping.

In case you're wondering, this post was 630 words, over twice as many as I was able to do creatively. Bitches.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Remember, remember the fifth of November.

Dear Blog,

So apparently you're supposed to do as much social networking as possible even before you're somebody. I'm not really sure who wants to read a blog written by a nobody, but if I must then I shall.

As of today I have 3.5 manuscripts written, give or take a chapter. I just finished going through the first 3 with different colored pens for editing. I think book 1 is as strong as I can make it without professional help. I got through a third draft of book 2 and a second draft of book 3. I'm almost finished reading through the pages I have done on book 4. I was happily surprised this morning to find out that I had only printed 180 pages of 213 pages. That's 1.5 more chapters done than I thought I had. Once I finish reading these 33 pages I'll try to get back into the right head space to start again. Sadly I set this book down in the middle of June to go back to the much needed proof reading of the first 3 manuscripts. I just hope, with the help of the right music, I can find the voice of this story again.

I woke up this morning to yet another rejection, which brings the count up to 17. Now I know that's not nearly as many as "they" say to expect. But damn, every day I get one, it just sucks. On Oct 4th I got three, that was a bad day. Even though one of the agents liked my sense of humor in the letter. My husband, John, likes to say "That's just one more closer to a yes!" Days like those, I let him be the positive one.

Well today is the Fifth of November, and although its supposed to be to remember what people were willing to do in the face of oppression by their government, I'm going to try to remember what I'm fighting for. I want to quit my day job. I want to be published. I want to go to a book signing and see people there excited to meet me. I want my books to be important to someone, even if it was just a "fun read" for them and they got to escape the doldrums of life. Because that's why books are important to me. Life is so much more ordinary than any of us expected it to be, books let you get away from it even if just for a little while.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.