Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Writing, Reading, and Signing

The writing continues. Still slowly. Sometimes I let my worries about the pacing of the novel slow down my progress. Am I lingering too long in this scene? Have I rushed through stuff that should have been important? The thing to remember is that the first draft just needs to be finished. No worries until second draft. For now, just get it all out.

This past weekend I had an opportunity to do a book signing at Poulsbo Book Stop! Poulsbo Book Stop is an adorable used book store run by a former librarian. I was part of a group of authors published by Books To Go Now. My romance novel isn't out yet, of course, but I was able to take a few copies of my first book, Modest Aspirations, which is a collection of my short stories and Gerald Locklin's poetry. And which is now available for sale on the "local author" shelf at Poulsbo Book Stop.

On a nonfiction note, I'm thinking about doing some freelance writing. Obviously my fiction writing isn't going to be bringing in the dollars by the hundreds, so even though I love it and it makes me feel alive, I think I may start using my words in a different way. Writing nonfiction is fun, too, and any time I'm using my keyboard to think I get a charge. So far this idea is just in the baby stages, but I have a good feeling about it!

This week I read Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. If you've never read one by her, this isn't the one I would recommend as your first. The Poisonwood Bible is still my favorite. And if you recently read Prodigal Summer, I would wait a while. They have similar themes - the environment, poverty, farming... Both books have engaging characters, and I liked them both. Just, not so closely together. This one is a fictional account of the Monarch butterflies relocating and changing the path of a family living below the poverty level. Every so often I felt like I was reading Nickel & Dimed (Barbara Ehrenreich) again, which is another thing that tends to happen when I read Barbara Kingsolver. I love that she brings up themes dear to my heart, but occasionally I wonder if she comes on a little strong. But still! It's a great book, and I do recommend it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Reading and Writing

I wrote an average of 800 words per day this past week. Progress. Slow progress, but it keeps moving forward, which means we will eventually reach the end! 

No one has kissed anyone yet, or made any big revelations, or blown anything up (although there was a mysterious shock that left two people jittery). But people have moved, they've made moves, and they've been pushy. People aren't being dishonest, but they aren't being forthright, either. Things aren't as bad as they could be, but no one is really satisfied, and everyone realizes this situation isn't permanent...

Meanwhile, I read a book this week that BLEW MY MIND! I only picked it up because my friend Leia said that she was "having ALL of the feelings." The reason I might never have picked it up is the title. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. By Ben Fountain. It sounds like a YA sports book for boys, doesn't it? Something along the lines of the movie Hoosiers, or Rudy, both of which I love, of course, but once you've experienced a couple, do you really need anymore? 

But that isn't what this book is about. Oh, no. It's a stream of consciousness book about a boy (19 years old) who has been in Iraq, and done a courageous deed that was caught on camera. So he and his buddies are home for two weeks on a "victory tour" to boost the war effort. They are at the end of the two weeks at the beginning of the book, headed to Dallas Stadium to watch the Thanksgiving Day game between the Cowboys and the Bears, and they are to have some kind of role in the halftime show, although they don't really know what, yet. 

That's the setup. But the delivery is a gut-wrenching, mind-blowing experience of emotional trauma as we live in Billy's head for a few hours. My life will never be the same. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Novel Update

28 days ago I started writing my new novel. Since then, it hasn't grown longer nearly as much as I'd hoped, but it has grown in depth. If I had kept to my original (rather fanciful, I have to say now) schedule, I would have 56,000 words. That was definitely a crazy goal.

But I have managed to work on it every day.

And I do have 58 pages, which equals nearly 20,000 words. I may have 20,000 words by the end of the day, actually. That means I'm halfway through the first third of the story! If the outline holds true. Things change, though, so we'll see.

I also meant to post on this blog more frequently, but I was kind of ashamed to admit how much more slowly the writing is going than I'd planned. Still, I feel like I've hit my stride. My characters are clear in my head and hopefully on the page, my outline has gotten more filled out and solid, and the plot is moving right along. I've never planned out a novel so carefully, and I think it will show in the finished product.

I've attended a few writing workshops and presentations this last three months, and I've been reading writing blogs. I also bought an ebook called Story Structure: The Key to Successful Fiction by William Bernhardt, which I recommend if you are thinking you need help with story structure. The book is full of things I already knew, but with ways to actually apply the knowledge.

Know what holds me back on my word count the most? Reading fiction. If I stopped spending so much time reading, I think I could have finished the whole rough draft already. Am I going to stop? No. Right now I'm reading And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, and in my opinion, it's living up to every good thing anyone has said about it so far. I hate putting it down. But maybe I can cut back a little and add that time to the writing time. Especially if I use the hour or two before everyone else gets up to write instead of using that time to read.

That's what I'll do. At least for one week. If it significantly increases my word count (and doesn't significantly diminish my happiness), I'll make it my new routine.