Monday, May 28, 2012

The Spring 2012 Reading List Wrap-up

I am beside myself with delight at the books I've endeavored for the spring reading list. For a strange reason, I chose only four books this go around. I think it may have been because I found the winter reading list difficult to execute. But of the four on the list, and the addition of a fifth book, I read through everything quickly with pleasure and zeal. And as far as any writer could hope, I learned something too. I learned about the crafting of novel, mostly because I was looking at craft. I also chose pretty good books.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Writer and the Magazine

The relationship between the writer and the magazine warrants discussion. From November of 2010 through January of 2011, I shared much of my experience as a fiction editor in my “The Short Story for the Editor” series. In short, that entire series was designed to help writers go from their initial drafts to a publishable story and acceptance letters. Again, this series was my reflections as editor. I hope it gave you insight and good sound advice.

One year later, November of 2011, in my “Pursuit of Publication” series, I discussed the other end, the writer's end of the relationship. In this series, it is organization and planning that are big keys. Obviously, success as a writer is more than just good writing, you must get your work read.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sown and Sewn: The Last Stitch

In an absolute fit of urgency, I finally finished The Errors of Fabric. There was no real ceremony on the completion of this project. Perhaps because I know there will be a grip of work to do on it, should I ever open it up again. Needless to say, it's done (at least for now). The last keystroke occurred at about 1:30 a.m. on April 26th. The whole thing ended with some very prophetic words: “Tomorrow will be a better day.”

Earlier in that day, I decided that I wanted to see the very beginnings of this manuscript. The word processor I use is kind enough to give me some stats on each file. Sure, there is word count, number of paragraphs, etc. It also gives me the number of revisions and the total editing hours. Without giving you the totals here, let me just say it was staggering to discover how long this project has gone on. And for those who don't get how funny this counting and quantifying the act of writing is for me, no matter how much I explain it, you never will. Writing was born, of course, out of accounting. Accounting was born out of the art of business transaction. Counting and writing have been sisters from the beginning. But, as I looked at the document stats, I could not find the exact moment, the exact instant that I began this project.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sown and Sewn: Part VII The Penultimate Stitch

There are clouds on the horizon, big fluffy ones. Although it's sunny today, or at the very least, right now, I know all too well that it will storm soon. It's not going to be one of those fierce Denver spring storms complete with hail, tornadoes, lightening and thunder. No, it's going to be the kind of storm that we know here in Portland: light rain and mist and for a long, long time too.
But it's sunny right now. It's still early spring approaching the halfway mark. Here in Portland, what do I care if the April showers bring May flowers. If so, what do the showers of May, June and July bring? And why is it that I'm never, and I mean NEVER homesick for sunny-bright Denver, Colorado when it rains? A sunny day here in Portland makes me wish I was wandering the streets of central Denver from downtown east along Colfax. Strange.
And today, as with the last several days, possibly weeks, I've been writing Denver: Denver streets, Denver light, Denver feel and I'm doing it all from memory. How horribly twisted and wrong this will be? Who knows?
Oh, The Errors of Fabric! I cannot wait to shelf this piece. Awful. I'm not just saying it's awful because I'm a self-editing, self-doubting, self-deprecating writer either. I really mean this piece is bad. Hell, this the tenth novel I've written and I know that of the former 9, even the worst one is superior in every way.
And yet, I am compelled to complete it.
Some time back about 20,000 or so words ago, I forewent my old habits of work. Rather than taking the first draft down with pen and paper and then transposing the second draft and working a concurrent third draft, I've taken to the lazy writer's ways.
First, I'm not, nor have I written a single letter with the stroke of a pen in the last 20k words. Instead, I've simply written the first draft on the computer. This is the first time for that.
Also, I haven't been seeding the manuscript with hooks and actualizations in a concurrent third draft like I normally would. In short, within a few days when I consider The Errors of Fabric completed, it will be a first draft only.
I don't know why I changed my work habits with this piece.
All I can think about is that I'm rushed because I waited too long on it. I'm also, maybe, a little burnt out.
But thematically this piece has taxed me. A big portion of The Errors of Fabric is unplanned pregnancy and abortion. I don't understand how I came to this theme at this point of my life. I just did. And hitting close to home, my accomplice is pregnant and we are expecting a son in July. He was not planned, but he is wanted. She got pregnant just after I started the initial work on the novel.
So, imagine it? I'm writing a story about two women, one who gives birth to a child and the other aborts her fetus. All the while I have been living with a pregnant woman, mother of my child, and everyday we're both watching the changes in her. It's wild.
This is, of course, no excuse for sloppy work, or indeed for rushed work or even for new modes of work.
The fact that The Errors of Fabric began in September or October 2011 and now it's nearing the end of April is another conundrum. Six months is an awfully long time to have a piece like this beating me down like it has.
Honestly, I don't know why I've become so hasty.
It's just been a difficult novel to write. It's not the characters. It's not the plot. It's certainly not lack of writer's experience. It's me, simply stated, me. And perhaps The Errors of Fabric will be relieved to be finished too. Perhaps it will be relieved once shelved.