Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Progress report March 14, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been a baaaaaaad blogger. No posts for three weeks.

Work has been busy (so what’s new!) but the good news is my colleague who was ill so long is back working normal hours, and we’ve worked out a new work schedule that should help everyone manage the workload better. We’ll start the four day work week we hoped to start in January too, so I’ll have a weekday off to write. No excuses then!

I’ve finally finished the rewritten chapter one of the story I pitched in Donna Alward’s pitch contest. Donna has generously offered to still critique it for me. I hope she likes it. I know she will have suggestions for how I can improve it, which I hope I can write well enough to incorporate! Actually, I more or less finished it a while ago, but kept tweaking tweaking tweaking. Eventually I just had to say “No more” and hit send, or I was never going to send it!  Even though what I sent Donna must have been my fifth draft of the chapter,  as soon as I sent it I realised more changes I need to make- ways to deepen the emotion and conflict. Somehow it felt scarier sending my writing to someone I feel I know and like than to sub to an editor. I don’t want someone I feel knows me to see I really can’t write!

Now on with the rest of the story. I was up to chapter 3 or 4 in the first draft before I stopped, knowing big changes needed to be made, and that the fact I’d taken a wrong turn right at the very start was what kept holding me back from writing. I can’t edit what I already have to fit, I may be able to use somes paragraphs, but really, the only way to make it work will be a rewrite. I want to just race through a quick and dirty first draft now. No point polishing as I go, I know too much will change. It may well be that once I finish first draft I realise I’ve still started at a place that’s less effective, and need to start all over again for the third time. If I do, I don’t mind- it’s all learning how to plot and get it right sooner next time, plus I will know my characters’ conflicts inside out by then!

I’m taking Easter week off, giving me eleven days to write in. If I write something  on the story every day now, maybe with a big push then I can get the first draft roughed out. Fingers crossed! Though I need to be so careful with the goals I set myself. I realised how I was setting myself up to fail with writing and feel worse about myself by making unrealistically high goals. I’d decide I was going to write so many words a day and make up charts to fill in my daily word counts and track how I was going against my goal. Lousy idea! If I’m not writing, I feel bad about myself, get depressed, start beating myself up about my writing being no good anyway so why bother, and end up writing even less. Setting high targets was just exacerbating this. Paradoxically, pushing myself to write harder ended up making me less productive, not more.  I set a new writing target this week, hopefully one I can stick to no matter what else is going on in my life. My goal is to write one sentence on the work in progress, every day. Just one. Anything else is a bonus. I’ll report back how that works!

I’m feeling excited today that I have plans for a whole series of stories set in the same small town as Meg and Nick’s story. I know that seems ambitious for an unpublished writer, but there are secondary characters who deserve their own story, then I saw how other ideas for stories I wanted to write would fit in too. Those characters would be right at home in Haven Bay. I need to know this now because it will alter how I create the story world. If I want to include a future story that hinges on the town being hard to get to and easily cut off from the outside world, no point putting it a mile off the highway now!

I also realised what I need to do with a story I wrote for JanNo 2008, that’s been sitting there in first draft waiting all this time to be edited. It won’t be part of the same series, probably won’t even be targeted at Superromance. I have the feeling it might just be a Blaze. The whole time I was writing it I was holding the heroine back sexually, thinking “She can’t do that!”,  and “No, she can’t possibly do that!” Maybe she can, and it ties in perfectly with her core relationship block. So that might be fun to play with once I’ve finished this one and subbed it.

Seems like the only stories I don’t have plans for are the two first drafts for the Presents contests…


7 Responses to “Progress report”

  1. Eileen Says:

    >>”Somehow it felt scarier sending my writing to someone I feel I know and like than to sub to an editor.”
    Totally know what you mean. Rejection by a stranger is easy, by anyone else? eep!

    Your goal for the week sounds great 🙂 I like the feel-good-ness of it 🙂

    And it’s great that you’ve got a whole world for your stories to grow up in, so to speak! I think it’s a fabulous idea especially for an unpublished writer: why spend all your time reinventing the wheel with each story when you could spend that time working on the characters/conflict!

  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    Hi Eileen! How’s life and writing going for you lately? Not only have I been a bad blogger I’ve been a bad blogee- have not kept up with reading anyone’s blog. : (

    It’s odd how trashing from a stranger is less of an issue than lukewarm polite praise from someone who’s personal opinion I value. If she doesn’t like thewriting she will think less of me as a person too. Which is crap. I am not my writing. How do you manage that in your course?

    The world building is fun! I think I’m creating the community I would want to live in.

  3. Eileen Says:

    You’d want to live there? That’s totally awesome!

    How do I deal? Not well this week. I put a story up to my class to workshop. It’s very new (wrote it last week) and its a new style for me (fairy tale fusion) which isn’t at all like the stuff we’ve been looking at. I’m nervous that I’m going to sit through an hour long thrashing on Tuesday done by people I go to school with 😦

    it was sooo much easier to post it on the boards. But that might be because people tend to just not say anything if they hate it. Lol.

    Usually though I found that I get super nervous about the feedback but once it arrives I was almost always pleasantly surprised. Or. I was thrilled to have learned something. But that plays in to having a great teacher who can turn your mistakes into a lesson for you — the part with my peers is always dicey. I think I might post my “process of waiting” on my blog for tomorrows post. Give me something to do with all this nervous energy in the meantime.

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    Sounds like a good plan to deal with the wait! And the story souds interesting ( I mean that in the right way, not in the “I gotta say something nice what the hell can I say” way!)

  5. Francine Says:


    Treat rejection like heavy rain – up goes the protective umbella and one plods on regardless!

    Unpublished writers need ambitious ideas alongside imagination, otherwise why bother writing when it’s easier to read work done by somebody else . . .

    Critique/feedback is only one persons reflections on what is read and their given opinion! As the saying goes “one man’s meat another’s poison” 😉



  6. Marcie Says:

    Baby steps. One tiny step (or sentence) at a time and before you know it you’re where you want to be (with a finished ms).

    The series idea – why not? On the Supers thread on eHarl one author said her first book in her series didn’t sell, but her second did. Her second being her first sale.

    Here’s a trick that gets me to writing – I tell myself I WANT to write, not HAVE to write. The word ‘have’ stopped me in my tracks every time, but the ‘want’ made me eager to get started.

  7. waitingforthecall Says:

    Love your “trick” Marcie!

    You are so right, Francine. Without the need to write, we’d happily just read someone else’s stories. The ideas won’t leave me alone!

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