Monday, March 19, 2012

Keeping the Plates Spinning, Or, Operation Triple Crown Is Go!

The good news is, I seem to have overcome my fear of short fiction, which was the last vestige of my anxieties around writing prose. I still don't feel like I'm all that good at short fiction, but that's just a matter of continuing to practice the form.

And there's the rube*.

I just finished one short story (it runs long for a short story at over 7,300 words; what can I say -- I'm prolix) and I've started another. I have a fun idea for a third in the back of my head, but I don't want to get ahead of myself: Short fiction isn't and shouldn't be my exclusive or even my main focus right now.

What is my main focus? Well, looking back over some of my earlier posts here, I remembered that I finished the first draft of my novel at the end of April last year.

In other words, almost a year ago. A #@%&ing year ago.

This lead to a predictable and unproductive spiral of frustration and anger at myself, yadda yadda why aren't I more productive blah blah.

But, you know, been there, was poster child for that. Enough already. The real question is, what am I going to do about it?

I'd like the next draft of the novel to be done - and out to my beta readers - before the one-year anniversary of the first draft rolls around. I'd also like to finish the new short story - it's something I thought up in response to a call for submissions, and there's a deadline attached. Finally, I need to get cracking on the script for the next arc of Cold Iron Badge so that Patrick can start drawing it after some of his other obligations wrap up at the end of April.

From today to the end of April is exactly six weeks. That's three major items on my creative to-do list (which of course doesn’t even touch on the other things I need to stay on top of).

Well, I have recently been experimenting with ways to increase my productivity as a writer (which I won't get into now, but may post about later if anyone's interested), and I'm starting to think that I just might be able to do it. It's going to require three things:

I need to write every day

Every day, for reals, no excuses.

I need to be able to switch from project to project at the drop of a hat

This isn't always easy for me; I tend to be in one project's headspace and need or at least want time to switch gears. It'll be interesting to see if I can push this and not have, for instance, voices or stylistic flourishes carry over inappropriately between different works.

I need to plan

The short story is the simplest of the three things I want to finish, and that one I can handle a little more organically. The rewrite of the novel, though, and the script for the comic, are going to require a plan. For the comic, I have a pretty solid outline to work with; my plan for the novel is currently a lot more nebulous, and I need to pin down exactly what I want to achieve, and how I want to do it. From both an artistic and time-management standpoints, I want to aim for efficiency - this is fine tuning, not a total overhaul.

It's in the BHAG

This plan falls solidly within the scope of “It’s so crazy it just might work”. Of course, I'm a proponent of the BHAG - the Big Hairy Audacious Goal - as a motivator, and this tripartite goal I've just set for myself is certainly big, hairy and audacious. But a goal as a motivator only works with accountability. That's where you come in. I'll be posting updates here as I launch myself into Operation Triple Crown (or whatever; I expect the name to change regularly).

In other words, more news as it happens!



* Me. I am a bit of a rube.


Sonal said...

Have you seen this?

She has some good ideas for structuring how to revise a long work of fiction. (Mind you, seeing her blog after a few years away, it's less brilliant than I remembered, but there's some good stuff.)

I applaud your ambitions and your plan, and will now go quietly hide from my own unfinished works.

Patrick Heinicke said...

Oh, I will be holding you accountable. :)

clairification said...

I also took an entire year to finish the final draft of my novel, and I beat myself up about it incessantly.

And yet... in addition to the great feedback I got from you guys, I also benefited from the time away from that book. It was a hell of a lot easier to unfuck it by the time I finally sat my ass down. (Hmm, I am profane today...)

Which is the long way of saying: maybe you could have done it earlier, but you can't do it earlier now--and you can do it better now.

Also, your book rocks.

Unknown said...

Thanks, all. The support and/or veiled threats are always appreciated. :)