Archive for the ‘The Business of Writing’ Category

The End of Year Post

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It’s fashionable to do these, so here it is: a listing of the important things I did (and didn’t do) this year.

On the whole, this has to have been both the best and worst year I’ve had, professionally. On the “worst” end of the spectrum, I found myself having difficulty remaining focused on projects. On the short fiction front, I finished a decent draft of one novelette, and started a second story which I never finished, but no short fiction got submitted this year. In fact, my inventory is currently sitting at zero. I never subbed the finished story because I ended up deciding to roll it over into a novel. On the novel-writing front, I think I did pretty well. I managed to cut 50k from the latest version of the novel and start the agent hunt. I also wrote a new novel, which I still don’t have a title for, but that took most of the year to write. I’ve taken this last month off to just do nothing and let the creative batteries recharge after making that final push to finish the novel during NaNoWriMo. Funny how I feel like I didn’t get much done this year.

On the “best” end of the spectrum, I landed an agent this year and we’ve blazed a significant trail through the in-boxes of many an editor in New York. No novel sale yet, but I did make a reprint sale this year, to Escape Pod. And my last short story appeared in Space and Time in January or February. While there isn’t much stuff listed in the “best” category, this does feel like a year in which I accomplished the most significant stuff of my career so far, mainly making that leap to being represented and making a push into the novel market. I’m finally one significant step closer to doing what I really want to do, and that’s being a novelist.

On that note, I’ve made a decision about what I want to do with writing from here on out. I want to focus on novel-writing; if a short story comes to me, then of course I’ll write it, but I’m not going to push myself to write short fiction anymore. Novel-length is my most comfortable length and that’s where I want to focus my efforts. I may eventually come back to writing short fiction, but for now, I want to follow my muse, and it’s got at least one other novel idea I’d like to try out.

As for resolutions, I don’t like to make those. Then there’s nothing to feel bad about when I miss the mark. I do have plans for the first couple of months of the year, involving getting the latest novel into shape and ready to submit, but beyond that, I want to let the muse show me the way when I get there.

The Beginning of the Holiday Season

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Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving (for everyone who celebrates). I managed to wrap up the first draft of the new novel last Tuesday, with the full thing coming in at 127k, a much more manageable length than the 200k first draft of The Bone Flower Throne. It’s very rough, and I still don’t have a title, but I’m going to give it some thought over the holiday. The plan is to let it sit until after the New Year, then diving into the next draft. I’m hoping to have it ready for first round critique by late February. For now though, it’s vacation time.

My plan for vacation time: read some books and play some video games and watch some movies. I also want to start thinking about my next novel project, maybe do some rough outlining and try to figure out my characters, and do some research reading. I have a world in mind, but no story to go with it (and oh boy, it’s not going to be an Aztec fantasy…well, at least it will be more than just that. I’m imagining an alternate Americas where the divergent point is back during the Pleistocene Epoch, so there will be some crossover, but only on a general basis.). I also don’t know yet whether it’s a fantasy or just a straight-up alternate history yet. Lots to think about.

On the reading front, I’m rereading Salem’s Lot right now. I first read it when I was twelve, and I read it in about 12 with the help of a pot of coffee. I don’t remember much about it, except that I couldn’t put it down, and really, though I’m reading it slower this time, I am rather hooked by it. I’m getting a lot more out of it now than I did when I was twelve. It reminds me a great deal of King’s other book Needful Things; he does small town life really well and compelling. I’m about halfway through right now and might finish it up today, though one of the kids is home sick, so hopefully I won’t be interrupted with having to clean up unpleasant things. 🙁

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

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Yes, it’s November, which means it’s time again for National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, for short)! I’m actually a pretty big fan of NaNoWriMo; I like the idea of it: spending a month putting butt in chair and just banging the words out until you have none left. But what I like most about it is having the deadline looming, and knowing just how many words I need to write daily to meet it. The last couple times I did it, I bashed that 50k into the ground (the second time I did it, I ended up at about 75k by the end of November. ETA: Holy cow! I went back and looked at my previous NaNo entries on LJ, and I actually finished with 110k. Was I insane or something?!?). It’s amazing to see just how much I can do without going crazy (and it’s alot!).

The first two years, I worked on The Bone Flower Throne, and this year, I’m going to finish up the current WIP, which is already sitting at 95k. I’m aiming for a finished product of about 120k, but that leaves me a lot of room to go over at this point, since I cut heavily in edits. My process pretty much involves just dumping my brain on the page and seeing what I like after the fact.

Now, I know there are some purists out there that insist you don’t really “win” if you don’t start a fresh novel at the beginning of November. I say horse-hockey to them, and they need to get a grip. “Winning” doesn’t land you a publishing contract, so who gives a fuck if you “win” or not. I know people who set out to write 50k in short fiction during the month (a much harder task than writing 50k of a novel, if you ask me). I did my first NaNo with a fresh project, but by the second time, I was really wanting to finish that sucker that I’d let languish for an entire year with no work on it. And seeing how motivated to crank out word count I’d felt during the previous year, I decided that’s what was most important: just getting the work done. It’s been a few years since I’ve done NaNo, so maybe folks aren’t as anal retentive about the “rules” as they used to be, but regardless I’m NaNoing to get work done, and that’s all that really matters. I need to get that first draft done and ready to edit and rewrite by the beginning of the year because my motivation has been in the toilet since the end of summer.

I’m far enough into the novel that I don’t have a working outline anymore, but I know where I’m going, so I’m kind of winging it, working off a crude roadmap in my head. I don’t have any opinion for whether or not people doing NaNo should have an outline or not; everyone works differently and it’s perfectly okay to stick with what’s comfortable. But November is also a good time to try different methods, so one shouldn’t be afraid to try outlining if they’re normally a pantser, or try pantsing if one’s normally an outlining control-freak. (though if one hasn’t outlined at this point, they’ll be behind).

If you’d like to follow my progress over at the NaNo website, my username is tlmorganfield. Feel free to buddy me and I’ll buddy you back. And good luck to all those joining the fray this year!

And turn off your internet while you’re working. You’d be surprised by just how much extra you can get done when not wasting your days on YouTube or LiveJournal or Facebook or Twitter.

Reinforcements Have Arrived!

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So I’ve had difficulty focusing on the writing since the end of summer, particularly the last couple of weeks where I’d only manage to work on the novel for maybe 250 words (on a good day) before finding myself swallowed up in the time-sucking wastelands of the internet. Research is the biggest culprit; I’d stop to go look up a minor detail and three hours later I’m still watching videos on Youtube or reading blog posts on LiveJournal and the various feeds I follow. Drastic measures have become necessary to nip this in the bud.

My daily plan now is to turn off the internet as soon as I drop Dana off at school, and to not turn it back on until I pick her up from school. And I’m not talking about just unplugging my wireless adaptor here in the office, but rather unplugging the router all the way upstairs, meaning there’s no internet anywhere in the house during that time (except on my IPhone, but I’m stingy with my data usage on that, and browsing the internet is not something you can do for long on there. Plus all my passwords for my time-sucking sites are now massive jumbles of letters and numbers I can’t remember without a key). So no email, no Facebook, no Deviant Art, just writing time with ITunes blasting. I’m also planning to join the NaNo crowd again next month, even though I don’t have 50k left to write in this novel. NaNo is a good motivator to put butt in chair and crank out the words.

I started this new regiment yesterday, and though I failed to keep strictly to the time span, I did manage the best word count for a day since I started this novel: 3.6k. Once I get up to my normal NaNo speed, in theory I should be finished with this halfway through week 2, maybe end of week 2 at the lastest. Last time I did NaNo, I hit 50k at the 3 week mark. The nice thing in all this was that when I felt the desire to stop and do something else, the internet wasn’t there as an option, so going and walking around the house for a few minutes was about the only thing to do, and I got bored with that rather quickly and returned to writing. I managed to get through an important scene I though I’d never get to at my 250 words a day, and I found it easier to still write once I turned the internet back on for the rest of the day. Getting past the 250 word hump was important to regaining my bearings and pace. I’m going to aim for 4k today.

The Good, the Bad and the Barbaric

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Some criticisms regarding my decision to keep human sacrifice in my One World universe has come up, but rather than sit and pout in the corner, I think it’s a good opportunity to reexamine my choices and why I made them (and whether or not it was the right choice to make them). I’m not going to quote anyone, but several readers have been bothered by the fact that in this alternate world human sacrifice is still going on next to space travel and genetic engineering and artificial intelligences. I think it’s a valid concern worthy of discussion and contemplation, particularly since it makes this future civilization appear “barbaric” to some readers. And the last thing I want to do is paint a minority population with broad generalizations or make them seem backwards. If I’m unwittingly being racist, I want to change that.

Warning! Spoilers for other published stories in the One World series.

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