In Which I Reveal My Not So Secret Secret Plan

So I thought now would be a good time to talk about what I’m doing this semester, besides the critical thesis. If all goes as planned I am going to write an entire first draft of my novel by the end of the semester. The goal is 15,000 words every month through December.

Current WIP word count: 15,029 words!

I can’t believe I’ve managed to get this much done in one month. Basically what I did was work on my thesis until the 15th (the due date) and the second half of August I tried to write at least two single spaced pages a day. Now that I met my word count goal I’m going back to working on the second draft of my thesis and then I’ll have to write another 15,000 words of my novel by the end of September.

So far it’s proving to be a pretty amazing/helpful journey. I spent so much time last semester trying to figure out what I was writing, what this story is really about, and because I’m a perfectionist I spent a lot of time revising the first fifty pages. After workshopping the beginning this summer at residency I realized there was so much I was ignoring–backstory, character motivations, the rules of the fantasy elements/magic, etc–that I decided to step back and dig deep into these issues. I haven’t figured out everything yet, but I feel much closer and I’m really excited about what I’ve got. Unfortunately, it does mean I’m mostly rewriting everything.

Anyway, sitting down and just writing out the story without worrying about making everything pretty, or getting every detail exactly right, is so freeing. I have such a hard time looking at the big picture with my stories. I love to focus on the intricate details, ie., all the pretty words. Writing out large chunks at a time gives me more of a sense of the arc, of pacing, of who my characters really are outside the pretty words. In other words, I feel like I am figuring shit out. And I am well pleased. Hell, I’m even letting my characters TALK to one another. A minor miracle! They have conversations. They interact. They do things!

My current advisor once told me in my first workshop at VCFA that when we are writing a rough draft we are telling ourselves the story. That’s what I’m trying to give myself permission to do. What’s nice about this attitude is that I know that if there is too much backstory in the beginning, if I give away too many secrets or mysteries too soon, I can always go back and move things around. It’s not static. And once I have the whole story I can look at the whole arc and see what needs to change, and only at the very, very end focus on all the pretty words 🙂

My Critical Thesis and a New Poem!

Whew! I finally finished the rough draft of my critical thesis. Now I can breathe again. I have never written a paper this long (35 pages! Eek!) and I’m still a bit shocked I managed to get through it all. It was…challenging. I won’t lie, but it helps to be writing about something I love: Omniscient Narrators. Many of my favorite middle grade books feature an omniscient narrator, and the more intrusive the better, in my opinion, but there’s a fair amount of animosity towards omniscient narration nowadays. So I wanted to explore the various ways in which intrusive narrators can actually pull a reader into a story instead of pulling them out (as many who argue against omniscient narrators claim).

And, of course, I got to read some awesome books like Maryrose Wood’s The Mysterious Howling and Pseudonymous Bosch’s The Name of this Book is Secret. I would have happily read all of Lemony Snicket, but sadly there wasn’t time. And I got to include some books I had already read that I absolutely adored like Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm.

After struggling through most of my school days writing papers in literature classes it was wonderful to write from the perspective of a writer and not a literary critic. And after years of convincing myself I couldn’t write papers it’s pretty awesome to say I wrote 35 pages that are mostly coherent. So hurray! Now I’m going to give myself a little break for a few days and go back to my novel.

Last, but not least, I’ve been terribly remiss about posting the link to my poem Said the Satyr to the Wood Nymph that was published in the Summer edition of Goblin Fruit! Hurray again! You can even hear me read it aloud, if you so wish.

http://www.goblinfruit.net/2011/summer/poems/?poem=satyrtowoodnymph

I’m so excited to be in yet another issue and with such wonderful company 🙂 And I’m sorry it took me so long to post this. Anyway, if you haven’t already, you should check out the whole issue. You won’t regret it.