Monthly Archives: April 2010

Is there a draft in here?

Hmmm. It looks like someone power-washed my blog while I was gone. Or something. Still seems a bit, um, damp in here. Is someone missing a kilt? At least, I think this is a kilt. Or it was . . .

Glad you all had fun in the comments while I was gone. I had a fantastic time at the beach! This getaway was long overdue and I’ve already decided I’m going back again. It was a worthwhile investment in both my sanity and my writing. No, they are not mutually exclusive.

There was more activity at the beach than I anticipated this early in the season. The air was nice and warm, but the water? Brrrr. The first few days I saw a lot of wind surfers. Or maybe they’re called kite surfers. Some of them let the wind pull them up out of the water, as high as 15 to 20 feet, and then float along for several yards before touching down to surf again. Serious upper body strength going on there.

This guy was having a tough time getting started. Made me wonder how you stop — it’s not as if you can just switch off the wind.

There were storms one night and I woke the next morning to SHARKS!

Okay, those aren’t sharks. They’re people in wetsuits sitting on surfboards. Everyone who spent significant time in the water was wearing a full wetsuit. But they do look like predators, all lined up out there, waiting to devour the next unsuspecting wave.

This is a picture I took at dusk of a nearby restaurant and its pier — outdoor seating for diners, weather permitting. There was a wedding out on the pier early one evening. Lovely.

What’s that? Why yes, I did also spend a wee bit of my time there writing. It wasn’t all spent sitting on the balcony staring at the ocean, feeling the sun on my face and the wind in my hair, listening to the crash of waves punctuated by the cries of sea birds.

I seem to have also managed to complete a draft of my novel.

Now before anyone gets too excited, my definition of “draft” is probably not the same as anyone else’s definition. For instance, it’s not the famous “truck draft” Jenny Crusie talks about. Believe me, if I were to get hit by a truck, no one reading my version of a draft would think, Hey, this just needs a bit of editorial tweaking and we’re good to go.

There is still a LOT of work to do. But it has a beginning and a middle and an end. Even better, it has three acts in eight (or so) sequences and turning points and a “this changes everything” midpoint and escalating tension and a solid plot and — well, it’s enough that I’m calling it a draft. A very rough draft. Okay, yes, parts of it are very smooth and polished. Huge sections, even. Still, it needs a lot of work. Including a couple scenes that are mostly notes to myself about what goes there and how it needs to happen.

I’m sure any writer with more experience than I have — hell, maybe even those with less experience –will read this post and think, Oh for godsakes, this is not a big deal, anyone can finish a rough draft. Yeah, well, I was starting to think I never would. For me, it’s a big fucking deal.

So I’m happy and hugely relieved right now, in a stunned I-can’t-quite-believe-it kind of way, and feeling like maybe I can do this whole writing thing after all.

Although, I suspect that confident sense of accomplishment will fade faster than my sunburn (yeah, totally forgot the sunscreen). Because, you know, as I might have mentioned, I’ve got work to do.

But still. Damn. I completed a rough draft.

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Filed under creativity, writing

My 2010 Conference Plans

Every year around the time of the RWA National conference, some of the experienced published authors in my chapter advise those of us who might be attending to think about our conference goals — why we’re attending and what we want to accomplish while we’re there. For some odd reason, hanging out at the bar doesn’t qualify.

My goal at my first RWA conference was merely to survive the experience. I went just to get a feel for what all a national conference entailed. It was overwhelming. And it was easy, in retrospect, to see the wisdom of narrowing one’s focus and setting goals. If for no other reason than to avoid that slack-jawed, deer in the headlights look so common to first time attendees.

That was a few years ago and I’ve been thinking it might be time to attend another conference. But I’ve been procrastinating and feeling indecisive about which one (maybe two?) to attend. There are so many of them.

Then I started asking myself about my conference goals. Why was I going and what did I hope to accomplish? What are the possibilities?

1) The conventional attitude of, “well, it seems like time” or “everyone else is going to conference,” aren’t even valid reasons, let alone plausible goals. Not when I have limited vacation days and an even more limited budget.

2) I could attend workshops — learn about craft or marketing or publishing. But I’m at the point right now that I don’t think I can absorb any more knowledge. The past couple years have been learning intensive and I’m feeling saturated. I’m not saying I know all there is to know, far from it, but it’s time for me to slow down the input for a while.

3) There are dozens of writers I’ve talked to on the internet whom I’d love to meet in person, but while that’s nice on a personal level, it’s not a professional goal.

4) There are agents and editors I’d like to meet and have a chance to chat with informally to get a feel for who they are and what they might be like to work with. But since I don’t have a completed polished manuscript ready to submit, there doesn’t seem to be much point. That’s not an impression I want to make.

Given the limitations, what would be the best decision in terms of accomplishing professional goals? I was stymied.

Until a couple weeks ago when I’d had a miserable few days at work and at home and everything seemed frustrating or annoying and all I could think was, “I need to get away. I need to find some solitude.” Actually, that thought cycles through my head on a regular basis, but usually I get over it and re-focus on what needs to be done.

This time I couldn’t shake it. The conviction grew stronger and developed into, “I need to get away. Find some solitude. And write.” It started sounding like a goal. A good goal.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m leaving today, right after I hit “publish” on this post. I’m taking a week of vacation and going to the beach. All by myself. To find some peace and solitude. To clear my head and recharge my mental batteries. To take the time to write, just write, without interruptions or demands.

Setting goals is important. It’s just as important to be honest about where you are in relation to where you want to go, and what it will take to get there. And to acknowledge that the path others follow may not be the best route for you. This year, for me, that means no conferences. Right now, that’s a plan that makes me happy.

Okay . . . copy, paste, publish . . . that’s it, I’m gone!


Filed under creativity, goals, health and well-being, writing