Update #1: When things don’t go according to plan

Over the past month I have been spending time blogging.
Not tweeting…and especially not working on my original writing projects.
It’s a tough balancing act, learning to accommodate all three.

When I found time to write, that was great.
Then I started the tweeting thing, and that worked okay.
So long as I was writing often enough, it reminded me to tweet.

But when I added blogging to the equation…my whole plan dissolved.
I’m hoping to find a balance with the three, as I do understand the importance of building the platform and providing multiple forms of writing for the world at large.

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, I finally found a niche of time to actually get some writing in last night.
I decided to get back to Project #1, and get another chapter knocked out.
However,  as sometimes happens…creativity did a 180.
I ended up working a completely different project I meant to start eventually.
But it insisted on beginning immediately.
Okay, then!
Rather than interrupt that creative process, I rolled with it, and came up with a good, reasonable draft of an outline, a solid first chapter, and a wimpy second chapter.

All in all, I was very pleased with the progress, even though it wasn’t at all what I expected.

Life is like that. Thank goodness.

Project #4

This is the last posting relating the positives and negatives of each of my Current Projects.

Project #4 is a limited type of autobiography…it covers one significant section of my life in detail.  The good, the bad, the ugly…it’s all in there.  As it is a narrative, it only involves my point of view: although certainly there are plenty of other people included in the work.

The major positive regarding this work is…it’s complete! Though I may yet make changes, the bulk of it is unlikely to change. Certainly, I have very little to add to it, as I feel I have been about as detailed as I can muster! Other unexpected positives are that I now know that I really, really love working with an outline; I know that I can follow a major writing project through to its end; and I know that if I have a clear path (such as an outline) and give myself enough time to write (even if it is in small, uneven doses), I can complete the project in an acceptable time frame. These are big points, and having met them absolutely contributed to my beginning each one of the projects I am working on now!  Once you know you can accomplish the task, it definitely becomes easier to start the next one.

The major negative with this project is…it’s complete, and I have no idea what I should do now to see it published under the best possible scenario.  I did huge amounts of editing as I continued through the writing process (I understand now that many people don’t think this is a good idea: they think you should write the whole thing out before beginning the editing process. All I can say is that it really worked well for me to edit, edit again, and then maybe rewrite the entire thing before editing a third time and finally moving on to the next section) and then set it aside for a time before revisiting. The last gap was several months in between my own reviews. I still didn’t feel I wanted to change anything.

I really would like feedback on what I have done before I start the laborious process of finding an agent/publisher/friend who talks me out of publishing altogether/etc.  But I have no idea how to get this! I did persuade several friends/co-workers whose opinions I valued to read the work, but I received virtually no feedback whatsoever.  I was so disappointed. I honestly would have rather had them tell me they either hated it or didn’t understand it or whatever, instead of offering no comments or suggestions at all.  That was rough enough! But that was then, this is now, and I still have no idea how to get feedback from someone.

I suppose ultimately I will just have to dust the cobwebs off the project, swallow my concerns, and get on with the ride. But it is frustrating.

I still think it’s a great story, by the way. But maybe I’m the only one.

Project #3

This is a continuation of  my description of the positives and negatives I have thus far encountered in my current projects.

Project #3 is a Translation Work. This particular project involves translating a collection of about 50 letters. This is truly the most unusual type of writing project I have ever worked on! I have never done any work with translation, apart from foreign language courses, and those usually involve vocabulary lists, basic sentences, and maybe a few paragraphs as the classes grew in difficulty. Nothing like this!

These letters are written in two different languages: one I have worked with in the courses referenced above; the other I have extremely limited exposure to. That, plus the fact that as I previously mentioned, I have not done any translation work in the past, makes this an incredibly challenging project.

But the challenge is what makes the work so fascinating!

The negative that I have encountered on this project, apart from working with languages other than my own, is that it is really difficult to read a variety of handwriting samples even when they are written in your native tongue. Trying to decipher writing when you cannot readily recognize the wording chosen is even more difficult! Mark Twain said, “I don’t give a damn for a man who can only spell a word one way.” While it is understood that creativity can be found even among spelling varieties within one work, I can safely say that the misspelled word written in another language is the bane of my existence, with regards to this project! Good penmanship goes a long way towards getting your point across in direct communication of this type.

The positives I have experienced far outweigh the negatives. For one thing, I am learning to work with other languages. That is a bonus I did not anticipate when I began writing. For another, I am learning a great deal from these letters, partly about the people who wrote them, partly about the people they were written for, and partly about the time period in which they were written. As most are from Europe during World War II, I definitely appreciate the first-hand knowledge evident in these letters.

Project #2

This is a continuation of  my description of the positives and negatives I have thus far encountered in my current projects.

Project #2 is a Young Adult Historical Fiction.  This is in many ways the most challenging project in terms of advance prep work and outlining, because while it is based on true events and real people, I am of course obliged to make up all sorts of stuff. I am good at creative detailing, so this is not difficult, but I am finding it particularly problematic to plan a work in advance, when I have no real way to guess how long the entire work will end up being.

I do have a rough outline sketched out, and the major characters are mostly developed, but that’s as far as I can get at this point.  Ironically, I have the sequel already outlined (this is probably easier to do when you are mirroring real life incidences, anyway) and if the length of the rough outline has anything to do with anything, both books will probably end up being much the same dimensions.

Now that the outlines are ready, I have been spending lots of time on research. I love the time period (about 1830 to 1880), but despite the hours and hours of reading I have done, I am deeply aware that I know so very little about this era! So, the game is on. Unlike the other three projects, which are mainly covering subjects I am knowledgeable about, this is almost entirely new territory, and thus requires a LOT of extra research. But, as I say, I love this span of time, so no harm done.

I would say the negatives about this project are that I don’t even know what I don’t know, and that the balance between fact and fiction is fairly delicate when dealing with historical fiction that I do want to portray as accurately as possible.  The positives, however, are that because it is fiction I do have plenty of room for off-the-cuff invention (an excellent creative writing opportunity!) and that because I set the guidelines, ultimately I get to decide when the book is finished. At least as far as the initial writing is concerned….

Project #1

In my previous post, I briefly described the four projects I am currently working on. For the next four posts, I will go into more detail, at least as far as the particular positives and negatives I have run into with each.

Each project has its pluses and minuses, just like anything in life. When the good outweighs the bad, keep going! When the bad weighs more than the good, it might be time to reassess the project at hand to determine if it is indeed worth all the hassle.

Project #1 is a how-to book. Or it will be, once I have completed it! A how-to project is great if you already know a ton about the subject matter, and an uphill battle if you don’t. In my case, I not only knew a lot about the topic, but I also have had a great deal of personal experience with trial-and-errors in this area. Thus, I have plenty of information and familiarity for this project. That made the initial outline super easy to arrange, which is huge when starting a writing strategy.

Once the outline was in place, it was no trouble writing each chapter, as in this particular case there were many, many short chapters (roughly 250-500 words apiece). Two sections are really lengthy, so I’m saving them until last, but I already have the major portions fleshed out through the outline, as well.

This project is 3/4 completed, and at this stage I would like to find someone to beta-read a couple of chapters, but that is proving difficult to do!

So, the positives are that this was an easy set-up for the outline, and that the information is so familiar to me that the writing process itself is a fairly smooth process, too. The negative is that now that I am nearing the end (the 4th quarter!) I find myself more and more reluctant to work on it: I already have one project complete; what am I going to do with TWO finished projects?! Sigh.

Current Projects

When I was a kid, my dad would tease me for reading several books at once.

Maybe it’s unsurprising then that I have several writing projects going at one time.

I find it super useful, as often my most relevant project (at the moment!) will suddenly not hold my interest, and I will simply turn my attentions to a different project for the day: an easy thing as all the projects are quite unique from one another. This happens quite frequently, with the result that all my projects are rotated through with regularity. This pleases me, as this way I don’t feel any project is neglected for long!

I am currently struggling, er, writing four pieces.

The first is a “how to” project, with a large number of short chapters. I am more than halfway through the first draft.

The second is a Young Adult Historical Fiction. I have this work roughly outlined and mapped out, and the major characters are mostly developed, leaving room for growth. I spend more time researching than writing for this project so far.

The third is a translation project. Wow. Super challenging. I am working with two other languages. One I am reasonably familiar with. The other I am not even remotely connected with, though I definitely wish I was! The more time I devote to this project, the more I realize what a huge undertaking this is. It may take years. No exaggeration necessary.

The fourth work is actually already written. What I need now are beta readers. Boy, those are hard to find. At least, finding even one who will follow through has been an incredible challenge. I have asked for feedback from no less than five trusted individuals whose opinions were of great value to me. I don’t know if they ever even read the material or not…one did ask if that was the title I was going with, so he evidently did get that far….