LaShawn’s Writing Project Status Update for February 2010

I missed the boat on creating my new year resolutions at the start of 2010. That’s because I was busy writing. Can’t come up with a better excuse than that.

So, Willow-wise, what have I been up to? I feel like I’m finally starting to pick up speed on the revision. Currently, I’m on Chapter 12. At first glance, it looks disheartening. Seeing that I started rewriting Willow in March, it almost looks like I did only a chapter a month–and with about 60 chapters planned, if I keep at that pace, it will be a long time before Willow is finished. The thing is, I don’t feel so bad.

I’ve said before in my Willow updates that I knew the first opening chapters were going to be hard. I would be basically establishing everything that would be coming after, and this included fine-tuning the world to be consistent and in some cases, starting a new chapter over from scratch. I believe I’m getting past that stage…the last chapter I worked on went much faster since the story was now established and things were finally moving.

I’m also perfecting my revision method. At the beginning, I just rewrote and rewrote the passage I was working on until I felt like I got it right. Now, I’ve been utelizing the comment feature in Word 2007 and highlighting areas that I feel needs more work to come back to later. I’m finding that instead of wracking my brain to come up with something right away, highlighting it give me a chance to continue working on the passage without losing my flow. And chances are, the right words will come to me later and I can easily plug them in. Now it’s just figuring out when’s the best time to do that.

So basically, I’m 20% into the second revision of my book. If I finish my short story for WOTF on time, then I plan to make April an "all-Willow" month, meaning that the only project I’ll work on will be Willow. I don’t have a set end date planned, but if I can finish by the end of the year, I’ll be happy. We’ll see.

And with that, I’ll lead into my short story status update. Back in September, I ran out of short stories out there on the markets. At the time, I decided to quick edit 5 stories and get them out on the market by October 9; I was only about to get four out: two poems and two short stories (I also promised to put up a progress meter; that didn’t happen.) At least I do have stuff out there now. I’m also hard at work with my next WOTF entry, which I have dubbed "Cotton Picker". I’m hoping to get it done by the March 31st deadline—and that’s coming up pretty fast.

The good news is that "She’s All Light" had been published and received rave comments and a good review. And I have another story coming up in the March issue of Ideomancer called "Future Perfect", which is actually the first science fiction story I ever wrote. This will be my second story published with Ideomancer, and I’m quite pleased this one made it in.

One final thought: I’ve been feeling a little burnt out on the creative side of things. So when Mur Lafferty announced on her I Should Be Writing podcast that she was starting a Facebook group on The Artist’s Way, I immediately jumped on board. I’ve always wanted to do The Artist’s Way, specifically the morning pages. I tried to to do a version of them on my own, but that didn’t last long. I’m hoping with the actual book and a community, I’d be able to get back into it. Feel free to join if you’re a writer or any kind of artist. Or even if you’re not an artist. From what I read so far, The Artist’s Waycan be used for anyone wanting to bring more creativity into their life.

While I’ll participate in the Facebook group, I’ll also post most of my thoughts on Twitter (my handle is @TboneJenkins). Feel free to follow along and let me know what you think.

Status Update on Willow

It’s been about three months now since I started the second full rewrite of Willow. And today, I just started working on Chapter Five. That means that so far, I’ve been spending roughly 3 weeks on each chapter, instead of just one week like I thought. At this rate, I won’t be finished with Willow until…um…late next year.

Crud.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been going through the whole text with a fine tooth comb. Looking for inaccuracies, trying to make sure I get wording right. I’ve rewritten the prologue and Chapter Two twice because the storyline didn’t sit right with me, and I wanted it to read right. So I threw out whatever I had, and completely wrote the chapters from new points of view, changed the location of a couple of places, and in one scene, decided a man would be better off as a woman.

The thing is, though, I’m having so much fun doing these rewrites. And I don’t feel terribly bad that it’s taking so long. I knew that the first few chapters would probably take the longest to rewrite. It’s like a first impression—I have only one chance to get the reader’s attention, so I want the storyline and the writing to be good. And so far, I’ve been really pleased in how strong the rewriting has made the story so far.

It also helped that I listened to #25 of the Odyssey Podcast by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. They discuss the differences between writing a story and a novel, but they also point out that you don’t know the story until you reach its end, thus, when you go back to rewrite, you can do so with that ending in mind. Hence, the opening chapters of your book will be the ones you’ll rewrite the most often. That made me feel a lot more encouraged.

(By the way, I highly suggest listening to the Odyssey Podcast. It’s not the same as being there, but it’s gives a very good idea on how it works. And they have great advice.)

Speaking of short stories, I’m working on a new one for the Writer’s of the Future Contest. This is probably the first story based on an actual person. It’s also based on some very personal feelings I have. I had a bit of a scare when I thought that the deadline for the contest was June 1, but it’s actually July 1, so I have more time. Which makes me happy.

So that’s the latest writing update I have. Willow’s growing, bit by bit. It’s taking a bit of time, but that’s how good stories get born. Letter by word, sentence by paragraph, page by chapter, until—surprise!—a book.

All right. On to chapter five…

The Amazing Super Colossal Technicolor Twitter and Facebook Juggling Act! (Or how to waste time poking nothingness…)

I don’t get Twitter.

I never got on board with it when it came out a couple of years ago. I didn’t see a need for it. Why would I want to let the whole world what I’m doing at that very exact moment? Folding my hubby’s underwear doesn’t work for an interesting status line. Well, okay, yes it does, but that’s only because my hubby isn’t on Facebook or Twitter. But really, who would want to read that? So I pretty much stayed away from Twitter.

Then Facebook grew popular and it seemed like everyone I knew was getting on it, so I shrugged and gave in. And everyone’s right. It is addictive. Which is odd because Facebook is only Twitter expanded with more features. You get the benefits of photo sharing, chat, email, groups, you name it. But really, I mainly use FB for the status updates of my friends…which isn’t all that different from Twitter, now that I think about it. However, whereas people could tweet every few seconds, Facebook doesn’t seem all that urgent. I’m happy to update my status every day or so. Some people do it more, others less.

But lately, it seems that Twitter has been growing more popular, particularly among the writing world, as the language of tweets began to evolve. You can now reply to someone else’s tweet using ‘@’ in front of their username.  Tweets that are about a certain topic are preceded with a #, so if you want to search Twitter on, say, Amazonfail, you can just put #amazonfail in Twitter’s search box and you get all the tweets on that. And, of course, you can put tiny URLs in your tweets. So it seems that Twitter has evolved from a “Hey, look at what I’m doing” to an informal message board/newsgroup of sorts. How do you think AmazonFail got exposed in the first place? If it wasn’t for Twitter, people wouldn’t have found out.

Stuff like that makes me think that it’s time for me to stop being so standoffish about Twitter and just knuckle down to learn about it. Twitter and Facebook can be powerful tools. It’s a good way to connect with writers and agents, hear about the latest writing news, and keep an eye on the marketplace. Plus, it’s a good place to get freebies. Authors and publishing houses would post free books, games, etc. And I’m going to figure out how to utilize Facebook better. I can see the appeal of Twitter, but I also really like Facebook in that it’s more personal. I’ve been leery of letting strangers become my friends on Facebook, because my friends are people I really want to keep in touch with. Twitter, on the other hand, is good for getting word out to as many people as possible. Good for short story updates and whatnot.

So what is the purpose of this post anyway? Mainly to get me excited about Twitter. I mean, for all intensive purposes, it’s still got a sucky interface (although someone did alert me to Tweetdeck for organizing both FB and Twitter, so I’m playing with that.) And there are still a lot of tweets that are mainly “just put a load of laundry in the wash” or “Awww, I’m all out of candy” and really boring stuff like that. Course, with Facebook, there’s all the “What type of Disney Princess are you” and all the “Send your Friend a Flower/Chocolate/Smiley Face/Dancing Toadstool/Mardi Gras/Cheating Alien/Moose” gifts that pile up in my request box until I sweep them all away with one click.

But I guess for using these things for free, I really shouldn’t complain now, should I?

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