Monday, January 24, 2011

When folks show up unannounced

Today I want to talk about a very serious problem- folks popping in without warning. Now I'm not talking about friends who may show up on your doorstep, no, this is much worse.

New characters who show up without calling first- WHEN I have no right nor reason to be working on a new book being as I'm editing a mess of them already.

Here's how this happened.

I am always on the look out for cool names. Since I work on a very VERY big college campus I have access to lots of amazing names. Usually I make note of the name (sometimes I think it would sound better with an extra letter, or a different first letter, etc.). Earlier this week a guys name popped up- I won't mention it because I don't like to talk names until a character has gelled (I'm a character first, plot later gal). This name would make a great character- but somehow I knew he was a in the brother of a main character. Then a girl's name popped up a few days later. Great- store that one away too.

Now, I'm up at my own self-inflicted writer's retreat in lovely Santa Cruz. The point of it is to relax and EDIT. A LOT.

But on the 8 hour drive up here, my tricksy mind started playing with the two characters. Soon they started having BACKSTORY! And, you guessed it, they are are siblings. SIGH. You know how hard it is to edit when some very conniving characters are trying to worm their way in?!

Anyone have some ideas on character control? I'm editing Warrior Wench (the SF book) and right now Vas (the lead of that book) is about ready to space them.

Anyone else ever have this issue? My brain feels as backed up as an LA freeway right now!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Year of Submissions -the gearing up

I'm now gearing up for the submission onslaught. I've taken this last year off from submissions and am now attempting to whip my books into marketable shape. The battle is not going well, and the troops are demoralized a bit.

Before I can submit, I need to edit and I have to admit I am falling very very behind on my editing. Yes, it was very ambitious of me to decide I would edit all three “new” books in a matter of two months. But I’d say that deciding to work on one book while writing two others was also ambitious and I pulled that one off.

But editing seems to be dragging and I’m not sure why.

So, in true social scientist fashion- I will examine the possible options.(Those Psych degrees have to be good for something ;))

1) Lazy. Ok, this one has a lot of validity, and I’m admitting it here. I get lazy (anyone who doesn’t is lying….badly). What happens is I kind of race through something- say a book- then get all burned out. So that is a factor, but not the entire reason. Resolution: Suck it up buttercup and commit to a set time of editing each day. Going on my own retreat up to Santa Cruz next week- that should get a jump start on this issue.

2) Fear of failure. Hmmm- possible. Right now I’m in the “la-la” land of sitting on some books that haven’t been rejected yet. And one that has, but will be getting a serious over haul so it’ll be brand new and shiny again. Once I start submitting, the rejections will be a coming. For those of you who don’t write (or aren’t submitting yet ;)) lemme tell you, this is not a defeatist way to think- it’s reality. If you write for public consumption, you will get rejected-nuff said. But I have been mostly out of the rejection circuit for over a year now, so I need to pull on my Big Girl Panties and get on with it!

3) Fear of success. Now, logically, and from a psychological side, I get this one. Emotionally? Not so much. I really think I could learn to like success- alot. A WHOLE lot. BUNCHES. I seriously doubt this one is really a problem- although to be honest, when folks read and like my work I do sometimes get a wee freaked out. But this doesn’t even require BGP, think we can ignore this one.

4) Finishing my editing means I need to start something new. LOL- almost as non- existent as the previous one, but there could be tendrils curling around my psyche. I KNOW my current books. I love my current characters. New ones are going to take some breaking in time. But again- not so much a BGP issue.

5) Editing hurts my head. Yeah this one might have validity. I can get overwhelmed by a project, and just want to ignore it- so that may be what’s going on here. Trying to look at all the editing issues at once, instead of in stages. I can remove this problem by doing stages and stop freaking out to re-write every line.

Those are a lot of reasons-LOL, but knowing is half the battle, right?
Anyone out there suffering from editphobia? Have any solutions? How do you get moving on your edits?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The new year- part deux :)

Another new year, and part of the new year bit for me is to be more organized…yeah- off to a great start. Completely forgot about my group blog yesterday- COMPLETELY…sigh. I’m just lucky the blog folks are wonderful and understanding. :)

Now on to today’s blog :)

I’m taking a different approach to modifying my behavior this year. As mentioned in last week’s blog, I wanted to take some time, sort out my thoughts, let things gel.

Well this week didn’t let any of that get done. Or rather, I, didn’t let that get done (step one- take responsibility ;)). Everyone’s life is hectic, and there are always new and existing disasters just around the corner- the trick is to roll with the punches, not against them (and yes, I’m writing that out by hand too ;)).

Sooooooo- I’m trying to pull my thoughts together now, without reflection or a safety net.

My first thought is, why do so many folks (myself included) fail to keep up our resolutions or life changes? I can’t answer for the rest of humanity, but I have to think some folks will be hitting the same problems I do, so here goes:

1) Negative focus. The emphasis here is on the negative aspects of a change ("you suck because you didn't get that done"), rather than the positive. Every step in the right direction should be appreciated for what it is, and steps in the wrong direction should NOT cause guilt. Guilt can cause avoidance, and more repeating of the bad behavior (I’m working on general life organization, health, and writing here so some will apply to all ;)).

2) Trying to change everything at once. Come on- this is a no brainer, but I do it all the time. It takes time to modify any behavior- many experts say about a month of solid change will re-wire the behavior in your head. When you’re focusing hard on too many at once it defuses the entire process. Baby steps.

3) The “first of the year” (or month, or week) phenomenon. I say plooey. It is nice to have an energy focus point, and Jan 1 in our culture has become a huge one. But, when you think about it, EVERYDAY is the first day of a new year. For example, if you are referring to something that happened Jan. 9, 2010- you would say “a year ago” –correct? So then TODAY is the first day of the year that runs from Jan 9th 2011-Jan 9th 2012. Therefore, each day is the start of a new year.

The problem with the focus on Jan 1- is that it’s too easy to let things slide as you get further from that date. You can “blow” your resolution a few weeks or months in, then just forget about it, right? Not so much if each day starts a new year ;).

So what am I going to focus on for my year of new years?

Positive changes with positive outcomes. My big three would be organization, focus, and dedication.

Now see, I’ve got concepts here instead of facts or tasks- there’s a reason. I need to build those three strengths to help get the changes made. So they are step two (one was responsibility- remember?).

Example: organization. Everything is a mess, my purse, my car, my house, my computer. Now, this would be fine if it worked- I am a very chaotic person so some level of chaos is normal- but it’s not working right now. Like when you read a chapter and think, “hmmm that’s not working, what I need to do to change it?”

The mess causes stress and wastes time- it’s not working. So my mindset is to work on organizing everything a bit at a time. Including my writing. I have lots of books going on, and a lot of storylines and details floating in my head or on bits of paper. That just ain’t going to fly. Since my writing and my library/office are a relatively controlled space- I’ll start there.

Now even though each day is a new day (first day of the year and all ;))- I do want to set some goals. Just like for my health where my tangible goal is 30 minutes of exercise 6 days a week (it will increase next month ;)). Well, my writing goal within organization will be to spend a half hour a day pulling together scattered notes, or working on organizing the physical aspect of my library office.

Under the focus heading –for my writing- will be spending at least 45 min a day editing/writing/class I'm taking this month. Now some folks do more- but I have to start somewhere.

Dedication- I have changed how I think about my writing, but since it doesn’t pay (yet ;)) it’s easy to not think of it as a job. But it is. So since I intend to start submitting my books again this year, I will spend two hours a week working on business aspects- looking up agents, professional blogs, queries, etc.

Dang- this turned out much longer than intended, but I guess it was what was needed. So how are you all approaching your new year?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year, A New You!

A New Year, A New You!

Ok, so the new year is only a few days old, and you’ve probably seen the title comment about a bazillion times already. Folks everywhere running out to change their lives for the better.

Today’s blog isn’t going to be about that ;). Well, not really…but kinda sorta.

I’ve had fun the last couple of days, spending time with wonderful friends, but I didn’t really get a chance to reflect and re-charge. Alas, work starts again tomorrow so I’m going to put off a major Winnie The Pooh thinking session until next week-end.

Today will be just a ramble.

Wrap up:

First off, 2010 wasn’t bad for me writing wise. I did get two books finished (one started and finished) plus did some more editing on Warrior Wench. I would have liked to do more- and I should have done more.

Healthwise- not great. I did nothing to improve my health in 2010 and have no excuse.

Job wise- I was looking to find a new job at the beginning of 2010, but have decided that with my new focus in writing, I need to have something solid backing me up. So, I’m stuck where I am until I win the lottery ;). Alas, unlike some writerly folks, I don't have the option at this point to write full time.

For 2011:

I’m not going to make resolutions. They seem so transitory, as if they can only be made at the start of the year, and if you fail you’re just done for the year.

I say poo to that. I want, no NEED, to make some changes in my life. They will be worked into my life slowly, throughout the year. I won’t beat myself up for failing, but I will climb back on. I’m not going to list them all right now (next week-end ;)), but my main thing is to outline what isn’t working (like someone would do during an editing pass for a book ;)); and determine what steps need to be taken to make it work.

Focus, organization, and planning will be the three tools I’ll be using first- both for my writing career and my life in general.

And that’s just enough rambling for a rainy day. What about you? What are you changing in your life and writing life?