Writing–When the Brain Has Other Plans

I have trouble with my brain sometimes.

Here’s an example:

Last month, I got pretty tired of rewriting Spirited In Spite. It turned into quite the slog that I couldn’t wait to get through. And while I was doing this slog, all I was thinking about was how much I wanted to work on my short stories. In fact, towards the end of the rewrite and the end of the month, I did start working on my short stories as a kind of reward for getting through the rewrites.

It was easy to come to the conclusion that I was going to spend February working on my short stories.

About a week and a half into the month, I was tired of looking at these short stories (to my credit, I had three of them ready to submit and one of those I DID submit) and wanted to work on something else.

For some reason, that happens. My brain acts like a spoiled child. It gets what it wants, plays with it a minute, and then immediately wants to play with something else. It’s ridiculous and frustrating and clashes with my stubborn self and need to adhere to the goals set for me.

This time, though, I decided to compromise. After submitting one of the short stories, I took a break from them. Instead, I took the weekend and read one of my novel manuscripts (A Tale of Two Lady Killers), making some notes on it. On Monday, I went back to the short stories. The break helped me avoid the feeling of slogging. It helped me to avoid resenting the goals I’d set for myself and in the long run, accomplish them.

I have to remember that my pig-headedness is an asset only when I use it correctly. I also have to remember to be flexible with my goals. Sometimes my spoiled brat brain has a good point and maybe a day or two spent indulging it is for the best.

It’s more cooperative when I compromise.

Writing–February Projects

February is being dedicated to the short story now that I’m finished with the initial (and crappy) rewrites of Spirited in Spite. I’ve got this goal of getting 50 rejections this year (more on that next week) and it’s really spurned my creativity in regards to my short stories.

So here’s my short story To Do List this month:

-Revise/Polish “At 3:36” (I’ve already done initial edits in changing it from 3rd to 1st person)

-Revise/Polish “An Active Sleeper” (I think I’ve figured out how to fix this story)

-Revise/Polish “Everybody’s Time” (I wrote it at the end of last month)

-Review “Powerless” and revise/polish if necessary (It’s my first rejection of the year)

-Write “Notorious” (about the survivor of a serial killer)

-Write “Hear It?” (about a person suffering from auditory hallucinations; title may change)

-Submit any stories that are ready.

I’ve got a couple of other stories (“Anniversaries” and an untitled one) that I could revise if I get the time, but I’ve left them off the list for now simply because I’m not sure what to do to them yet. The stories need tweaking to make them work, but I’m not sure what the tweaks should be. I’m sure it’ll come to me.

Ideally, at the end of the month I’ll have at least four stories that can (and hopefully will be) submitted.

Gotta keep producing and submitting if I want those 50 rejections.

Writing–Revising Spirited In Spite

My goal this month was to revise Spirited In Spite and submit it to a novel contest. I knew that I had a lot of obstacles to overcome in the goal. I started doing the work in December during the holidays and nothing kills my productivity like running the Holiday Gauntlet. I knew I was going to Chicago for a birthday weekend at Cubs Con, which meant getting any work done would be pretty special. I saw those challenges and was willing to face them head on in the name of getting this manuscript entered into the contest.

However, what I didn’t count on was my bad memory and ability to underestimate things.

See, I had notes written up for the revisions/rewrites of Spirited In Spite. It’s how I do my manuscript revisions. I read through it and make notes. Looking at the notes, I thought I had more to work with than what was actually there. In other words, there was a lot more rewriting than revision required. Shortly before I left for Chicago, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to make the deadline. There was just too much work to be done and not enough time to do it, particularly to the satisfaction of entering it into a contest.

I’m continuing with the rewrites, of course, and I’m hoping to finish them this month. I shouldn’t have any more interruptions for the rest of the month and if I can write 60,000 words in 3 weeks, I shouldn’t have any trouble finishing this rewrite before the 31st. I do have notes, after all.

In a sense, I’m really writing a new first draft when doing these rewrites because so much of the manuscript is being rewritten. In fact, I’d say at least 75 to 80% . And when it comes to writing a first draft, I just write as fast as I can and don’t look back.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t realize sooner that revising this manuscript for a contest would be a lost cause. A Tale of Two Lady Killers was probably in better shape to be done and I might have actually made the deadline with something worth submitting. But these are the kinds of mistakes that I tend to make. I get an idea in my head, think I know what I’m doing, and then too late realize that I’m clueless or that I missed a much better option due to tunnel vision. It’s something I really do need to work on.

But, at least at the end of this whole mess I’ll be one more step closer to having a legitimate finished manuscript on my hands to do with as I will.

There’s always another contest.

Writing–January Projects

January is going to be one busy, crazy month.

I’m rewriting/revising Spirited in Spite for a contest. The deadline is February 5th, but I’m going to try to have the novel done by January 30th. Yeah, considering most of the book has to be rewritten, there is no way this can end well. If I can get it in somewhat readable shape, I’ll be happy.

The contest is in three stages: pitch, excerpt, novel. I will declare this contest a success if I can get past the pitch stage.

Really, since there’s no entry fee, there’s nothing I’ve got to lose by doing this. The hard deadline, the goal, will help keep me focused. I’ve rewritten/revised one other novel, but I didn’t complete it in the sense that I would feel comfortable with sending it. I can’t imagine I can get this book perfect in about 30 days (okay, to be fair it’s more like 45 days since I actually started working on it in December), but what I will end up with when I submit my entry is going to be better and closer to finished than what I’ve got right now. There’s no reason for me to pass up the opportunity to really work on my novel revising skills in a specific time frame and with a definite goal.

There will be stress and frustration. Let’s just hope that it’s not so severe I end up pulling out my hair.

I’ve also got a few short stories that need to be finished from December. “Another Deadly Weapon” is done and ready to go. “How the Night Haunts” will be up on the blog shortly. The rewrites on “At 3:36” ended up separating the piece into two different stories, “At 3:36” and “Powerless”. “At 3:36” needs more work, but “Powerless” just needs some polishing up, I think. “Anniversaries” and the untitled short story need more work, too.

Aside from “Powerless”, every other story is going to wait in favor of the novel revisions. With “Powerless” done, I’ll have four stories (along with “Soul Sister”, “Playing Chicken” (the anthology it was going to be in was canceled), and “Another Deadly Weapon”) to shop around, which I plan to do in earnest. My goal is to submit a lot more short stories this year.

Let’s see how this all works out with my birthday and me being in Chicago for four days. Let’s just see.

Writing–The Other Projects

The World (Saving) Series isn’t my only novel project I’ve got in existence. Due to some successful go rounds at NaNoWriMo as well as a pretty productive period during a six month period one year, I’ve actually got a few in various stages.

When I wrote the first one, now titled Spirited in Spite, I didn’t realize that I was creating a universe. It wasn’t until I wrote (and then lost in the Great Crash) A Simple Matter of Mind Control that I was on to something. By the time I finished the first draft of A Tale of Two Lady Killers, the concept of this universe solidified itself. It wasn’t until The World (Saving) Series that I gave this universe a name, The ‘Skirts, and decided all of the pieces fit. All of the main characters are “on the outskirts of normal”, as one of the characters explains. They all have some sort of paranormal attribute. To me it makes sense and I hope I can make it work.

As I mentioned, they’re all in various stages. Spirited in Spite is waiting to be rewritten (I’ve already done a few chapters and made notes on the rest). A Simple Matter of Mind Control, first draft lost to the Great Crash, is outlined and waiting to be written again, the changes I was planning to make already incoporated into the new outline. A Tale of Two Lady Killers has already had one round of revisions/rewrites.

And we all know where The World (Saving) Series is.

I’m hoping…no, intending…to get back to all of these projects and make something readable out of them. I think they all hold the potential to be good stories and I want to see them through to the end.

Not only would I like to get these stories told, but they also provide me with the opportunity to get into the habit of finishing things.

But that’s another blog post for another day.