26 Dec 2009

Checking in

The day after Christmas, with year’s end closing fast, I should update my progress on my December writing challenge. I could be writing instead, but this is a moment’s accountability to you, Dear Reader.

First things first: I didn’t start the challenge on December 1st. I was utterly, totally consumed for weeks preparing my Mad Skills in WoW workshop presentation. I cut myself some slack until that was behind me.

I gave my talk in Phoenix, at the Arizona Library Association’s annual meeting in preconference, on December 7th. It went very well and some good things appear to have come out of it. I attended the rest of AzLA, came home toward the end of the week and pretty much collapsed from exhaustion except for writing a very long, very vigorously worded three-blog-post (starting here) for Library Journal concerning negative research about games. That was itself pretty exhausting, mentally and emotionally.

So I decided to start my fiction challenge on Monday 14th instead of the 1st.

I won’t go into my current word count, taking a cue from challenger Monica Valentinelli. It isn’t pretty. I’m not on target to meet my 20K goal by January 14th. That said, I have more than I did on December 14th. My imagination is engaged and I know from experience how important that is.

My ex makes much of how fast he writes and sometimes leaves others with the feeling that if they don’t write as fast as he does, they’re lazy or they’re doing it wrong. (This is partly in reaction to other established professionals who, writing more slowly, think he does it wrong by writing fast. I consider both factions silly goobers.)

But one useful thing I did observe and internalize about how he was able to write so fast was how much “writing” happens between one’s ears. By the time it’s coming out on paper or pixel, it’s already half-written. The rest is transcription. The work on my novel is in fact producing a modest word count but more importantly (for me, and at this early stage of the game), it’s bubbling in my head. That hasn’t been the case heretofore, very much, and I have identified that as a key reason it was slogging until now.

The flipside to all this is that my bubbling brain is also throwing up (a term I use advisedly) yet another piece of fanfic at me. Damn me but that character loves the limelight. I gave him a couple of days to play on my computer screen, and then told him to go sit in the corner again. It’s new writing, yes, and it’s fun, but today I burrow back into my other story.

So I’m neither happy nor unhappy with what I’ve gotten done. I’d hoped to get more accomplished by now, even starting late. But I’m progressing, and that’s making me pleased. Even more than that, I feel good about the direction I’m moving, and frankly that’s the biggest part of all.

3 Responses to Checking in

  1. Steve says:

    Your update was very interesting, Liz, and insightful! I, too, am working on a story that has considerably more written in my head than “on paper” (or in bytes, I guess). However, once I am home from Hawai’i, I intend to get considerably more serious about the avocations I’ve been dabbling in for the past year.

    If you ever find yourself with a few spare moments and feel like chatting, a few of us hang out regularly in the “saucywenches” chatroom at conference.jabber.org.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Monica says:

    Sounds like you are inspired to write, which is definitely worth a lot, IMHO. I tend to stray from “this is the one way to be a writer” sort of advice, if only because every professional and amateur I’ve ever met tend to develop their own habits. :)

  3. Liz says:

    @Steve, I’ll see what I can do about the chat!

    @Monica, the inspiration was exactly what I needed — a focus. Thank you for that. Writerly advice is GREAT when it is “you might consider trying this out because it worked for me.” It sucks loud and long when it’s “My way or the highway.”