Sunday, June 12, 2011

Getting a Grip

Ah, Sunday, quiet walks in the woods with the dog, meditating on life's richness, catching up on reading the papers, a nice slow dinner cooking in the oven...
Nah.
I could paint that image but it would be false and I'm all about being true.
I'm in dirty jeans. I just planted the tomatoes, the basil, the red cabbage and the mystery vegetable (nope - not a clue - really). I planted one outdoor planter with geraniums and some other greenery. I got my other planters ready for something - we'll see. I planted the irises that floundered in a garbage bag ALL WINTER but still wished to be alive. I didn't weed. I can't. I really really can't. I did meditate - that is going well - I park my bum and my coffee every morning and do it before getting dressed.
The man has the German lad out in the car driving. Felix takes his test in two weeks or really less - I guess in one week - he took his driving instruction but he only has one kick at the can. If he doesn't pass the driving test he can't take another as his parents will be here to whisk him back to Berlin. Just not enough testers...if he fails, I'll take him to a small town to get it.
There is bread that the man made rising on the counter.

I've done almost everything on my to-do list but two things. One is to walk the dog and I will. The other is to GET A GRIP on my several writing projects. That's where you all come in. You know if I tell you I'm going to do something, I do it. I'm just like that. So I'm going to do my writing priority list with you as my witness. And you don't have to be a mute witness either - you can weigh in - tell me I'm mad - that I've chosen the wrong project to focus on - yep - you can. 
The first thing I'm going to do is go to Elizabeth Spann-Craig's Writers Knowledge newsletter (probably by now in my deleted file but still available) and find an article on having too many projects on the go - it was helpful - wait right here - I'll be back.
Yes, well, ehem, I thought it was there and I can't find it. Dang. I don't need to find it - just another way to avoid getting down to it. Think I'll just get down to it.
So - first I'll write down the projects I'm involved in - what I think needs to be done next and some sort of time-line.

True
True is done. I'm not sure what draft it is as I don't entirely work that way. I wrote a first-draft, cooled it off, revised and sent it to a few readers. I got info back on it and revised some more. Then I gave it to an editor a month or so ago. She's doing a balcony, floor edit (that's what I call it) or a macro/micro edit. What that means is that she is reading it slowly and making comments in a word program. We've gotten together once about the novel and will again in two weeks. At that time, she'll give me all the notes and the edited copy. So far, as I understand it, the micro-edits are the usual suspects - over-used words, bad comma use, passive words etc... not everywhere you understand but this is the micro edit. On the macro or balcony edit - she sees some things I could do to make the story stronger - tighter and brighter - and ways to make the main protagonist more convincing etc... so far, no big structural edits. It is a literary novel and so the plot isn't the same big deal it is in my mysteries. I think, once she gives it to me, I could have the revision done in a month. Then I want to start the query process. And I will want her help on my query letter too. I love working with her - we share a sensibility and passion but have essential differences that will really help me in this. She is kind, funny and DIRECT. Yay.  So - by August first I could have something to send out.

The Rock Walker
RW, my first Kitty Macdonald mystery, is finished all the way through. It has been revised a couple of times and been read by others. I've worked some of the changes that made sense to me BUT I have lots of structural stuff to do with this. I know the story and I'm happy with it. I'm happy with the characters and I'm happy with my writing but I'm not happy with the order in which it is told. So - I haven't been working with it since I sent out the first couple of chapters to the Debut Dagger. In fact, it was entering that contest that made me realize that the structure needed work. I have a new start but nothing else. This is like a major renovation and a bit frightening. I think that is why I haven't opened the file. So - what do I need to do and how long do I need to do it in? I think I could revise the structure in about a month - then I'd have a couple of months of back and forths with someone doing the same thing as my editor is doing with True - don't know if I could use the same person though...time wise that is. Then I'd be ready to query it in say three or four months.

Earth Bound

Earth Bound is the second Kitty MacDonald mystery. It is at 56 thousand words. I like it. It may be better than the first one which is something to consider. eek. It is funny and quick and has lots of great quirky characters. Plot wise - I'm feeling mental. I wrote the first 50 thou for NaNoWriMo in the fall of 2009. I stopped and worked on the other two books that were at various stages. Then I came back and did a lot of hard pruning. Now I'm stuck - I, ahem, am not sure who the murderer is. I know, I know, no one can help me with this but...well there are reasons. Stupid reasons but compelling all the same. So, realistically - I could - if I drove her - finish the first draft in a month. Then I could let her cool for a month or so (while doing some of the other stuff?). Then maybe two months of revisions, then a micro/macro edit and another draft - then out to the world.

So, now let's look at my time and what else I have planned within that time.
I have a sketchy schedule. My clients are down - normal for summer - and I have, for instance, a big empty week starting tomorrow. I will have to go in a few days but I could count on at least two days of full on writing a week if I wanted to and at least an hour or two a day. I won't get the True edit for two weeks. The smart thing for me to do, I think, would be to work on Earth Bound for the next two weeks. Then put it aside while I spend the month needed on True. Start the query process for True and spend two more weeks finishing the first draft of Earth Bound. Leave that to cool and go back to The Rock Walker. While EB is resting, and True is searching for a home, I could spend a month restructuring and then send it off to someone to do the micro/macro. Go back to EB and start the revision process. OK, this makes sense to me. Now I'm going to put it in a calendar form. You can have a snooze if you're still here or just go off to some site where they are talking about knitted lace patterns...or the new Woody Allen movie - gawd I cannot wait to see that!

OK - lucky for you it wouldn't copy the calendar I made up so I'll let you off the hook. I'll do it an easier way:

June 13 - 30th - work on finishing first draft of Earth Bound - between 70 and 90 thousand words. (up to 33thousand words but most likely 20 thousand) - so between 1 and two thousand words a day.

July - meet with editor - do final revision on True. write query - start query process by month's end.

August- go back at Rock Walker - do structural revision - take month to do it. See if editor will do same deal. If she will then give it to her by end of August.

September - Start revising Earth Bound.

October, November and December - continue with Earth Bound and the query process with other two. That should keep me busy. Be done all revisions of EB by end of year and have it sent out.

So - by the end of this year (six months hence) I will have three novels in query or perhaps even one or more will be picked up by then. Whew!

20 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I too was in jeans working on my next poems, rain pouring down none stop.

I so enjoyed your writing, a pleasure to read.
Hope the books come to fruitation.
Yvonne.

Jan Morrison said...

Thanks Yvonne - it is nice to work back and forth between the garden and the page...

Liza said...

You are brave to put this into writing. I'll stalling and not at all ready to document a timeline to this degree...

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Liza - oh, I don't think I'm brave, I think I'm foolhardy. I have to decide how to do this as I can't bear another day of three not completely finished manuscripts. I think I started True about four years ago so it isn't like I haven't had time! I just looked back - think I started it in 2005. yikes. and the mystery a few years after...2009 is the oldest file I can find but I think it was 2008.
Yep. Time to shake a leg!

Carol Kilgore said...

I would do it differently, but we are two different people, so while my way and reasoning may not work for you, I'll share it anyway.

I would let Earth Bound sit because there may be changes in the first book that will change what you write in the second.

In June I would start on the structural part of The Rock Walker and finish it.

Then the editor and True and get it out there.

Then finish TRW. When it's at the editor, finish Earth Bound.

My two cents.

Jan Morrison said...

OK Carol - I'm liking this. And I've just spent the morning on EB so that is saying something. I think you may be right. I think the reason I don't want to go into the RW is that it is harder to renovate than build a new house if you get me? Or at least not as exciting. I'm going to do it. So there - I'm going to stop working on EB and go right to RW - now.
Thanks deario - that is why I asked - I know my hiding wicked ways...

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, you have some great projects and so I hope you have success 'getting a grip'. I loved the excerpt I read from The Rock Walker and can't wait until it comes out.

Jan Morrison said...

Thanks Clarissa - I took Carol's advice and I've just been diving back in. I'm really struggling with how to begin. I think I'm back at a prologue (murder scene) BUT then the body is not found until a bit after the 100th page and that just isn't OK. I feel, quite frankly, crazed. Oh, well, back to it.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I was going to write something bright and witty, but I just read your reply to Clarissa and it has given me pause. I too, have a prologue of sorts when the body is discovered, but then go back and start the actual story with the whole lead up. Crap.

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Elspeth - hey - we should talk - I mean really talk! I need to figure this out - it is driving me mad! I just talked it all over with Ron on a drive and now he's crazed too! Poor belaguered man.

KarenG said...

This sounds highly productive! You are in a good place with your writing.

Theresa Milstein said...

You're juggling a lot at once! Good luck with it all.

And keep us posted on the mystery vegetable!

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Karen - yes, I think I am. I had a bit of a set-back but now I'm hard at it. I am trying to remember the cause, condition and effect of writing, revising and querying. I will be published if I keep the cause and condition happening...
Theresa - don't worry - I will let you know what I've planted. I cannot believe that I can't remember as I must have made a choice! It is gone...

Carol Kilgore said...

I know how tearing down walls and rebuilding is. I've spent the last six months doing it and just finished this morning. Now it's going off to the editor.

Jan Morrison said...

Yeehaw! Doesn't that feel good! I've been working (as to your suggestion) for the last few hours on The Rock Walker. I feel pretty damn good. Lots and lots to do but still - a good start on a big ole reno.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, I can't imagine working on that many projects at once!

Jemi Fraser said...

We did some planting on the weekend too! We also have a mystery plant growing - I know little about plants - but I'm hoping it's pretty!

For your murderer, find the 3rd suspect introduced - that's him! Or her. Maybe :)

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Alex - oh, it's probably the same as working on one project at a time in many ways. I just need to jump around.

Jemi - I'll check that out soon...for the RW I know who did it -fortunately!

Arlee Bird said...

You sure have a lot going on. Come to think of it I do too except I haven't got it as seriously organized as you do. You deserve a pat on the back for organization.


Lee
Tossing It Out

Jan Morrison said...

Oh Lee - organizing it is the easy part - now I have to actually do it! I did spend about four hours yesterday and I will today and tomorrow too. I have a VERY light client week (at my psychotherapy practice) so lots of time to catch up on my projects. I just need to not confuse the map with the territory.