The next chapter: April 2015 update

Where I’ve been

I don’t know how to say this, but April kind of sucked.

Due to the situation at work, I decided to give myself a true break for the Easter long weekend. So, no writing there.

The next weekend was Ad Astra and I knew better than to even promise a blog post. No writing that weekend either.

After having left things for so long, it took a while to get restarted.

I didn’t get either of the two stories written that I had wanted to, and only revised one story, but incompletely.

You won’t be surprised by my progress, or lack thereof.

April 2015 progress

11,907 revised words on Initiate of Stone. I’m about 70% finished.

5,541 words written on the blog.

2,931 words written on Marushka. This is so far below what I’d hoped for in progress that it makes me weep a little. According to my original goal, I’m just over 50% of the way to finishing the draft. I’m closer than that, but I don’t know how much more.

38 words is all I managed on my short story.

20,417 was my total for the month.

April 2015 summary

I submitted my story “The Broken Places” for consideration to the Aurora Awards and several people were kind enough to nominate me.

I’ve also sent it to Sandra Kasturi for consideration in the next Imaginarium anthology.

Will be sure to let you know what happens.

Where I’m heading

Friday was my last day as a consultant. It’s truly a relief to be back at my old position with the training team. I’ve realized that I appreciate my position so much more now because I actually get to see the results of my work.

Even if I’m frustrated because my learners tend to hear what they want rather than what I’m actually teaching them, I maintain relationships with many of them and can see how they’re doing.

I’m burnt. I’ve actually been so tired I’ve felt sick, but when I’ve tried to nap, I don’t actually sleep. I close my eyes and my mind won’t settle down. It happens at night, too. I just need a break.

I have only two weeks at work and then I’m off for five.

Since I need the rest, I’m not going to be slaving away over my break, but I do intend to get some work done and finish a few small projects around the house.

I aim to have my revisions on IoS and my drafting of Marushka all, or mostly, done by the time I start my leave.

Then, I’m writing my query and synopsis, researching agents, and I’m going to send IoS into the world to see how she does.

I’m trying to arrange a bit of a promotional visit for a new author friend, Madeleine Callway, some time in June as well.

Because of that, I’m not aiming high for the next couple of months, though I do intend to pick up with drafting Gerod and the Lions once I’m finished Marushka, and trying to pull together Apprentice of Wind, the second book in the Ascension series.

Since I’ve been working toward the goal of querying, I’ve taken a load of courses, including Jane Friedman’s MBA for Writers and I’ve picked up Jeff Goins’s The Art of Work.

I’ve had Julie Czerneda and another author friend review my opening (‘cause openings still kick my arse).

I’ve ordered the 2015 Guide to Literary Agents and signed up for Publisher’s Weekly, ShelfAwareness, and Publisher’s Lunch free newsletters.

I’m getting serious about this writing gig in a whole different way.

Of course, I’ll let you know how all of this pans out.

One more post today and then I think I’m done.

See you in a few!

The Next Chapter

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The next chapter: March 2015 update

Last month, I wrote about how I was reprioritizing my life because I’d made the realization that pouring all my creative energy into the day-job was not making me happy. It wasn’t getting me any closer to my goals as a writer, either.

I started March out, work-wise, by applying for my self-funded leave and putting in my vacation requests for the first two quarters of the 2015-16 fiscal (to the end of September). I started expressing my opinion (which, of course, did me no favours, professionally) and reframing my experience with the perspective my wee revelation had provided me.

A series of serendipitous learning opportunities came my way, many of them concerned with following one’s dreams, or finding one’s calling. Funny how these things happen when we really need them to.

As I write this post, I’m listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast on the Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This month’s newsletter from Katie Weiland included a piece on her “spring cleaning” of her subscriptions and social media. She was doing this to reclaim writing time from potentially wasteful or distracting electronic practices.

Having said all that, I was burned out by the time March rolled around. Last fall, when I had originally intended to take my self-funded leave but decided to defer it, I said that I was a little toasty around the edges, but that I’d probably be able to hold out until the spring.

That was before this acting consultancy.

Truthfully, I was burnt before the end of January. Part-way through February, I stopped revising Initiate of Stone and then I stopped drafting Marushka.

With IoS, I had to shift back into drafting mode to rewrite a chapter that was completely altered by my decision to remove a character from the novel. I was blocked, essentially, as I tried to write around the hole I’d decided to make in my plot. I didn’t stop writing per se, but I was having trouble finding my way out of the maze.

I made several abortive attempts to redraft the chapter in Word (which I didn’t count), but ultimately found that drafting by hand (which I also do not count) was much more effective. Once I had the chapter mapped and pieces of it written out, I was able to regain my momentum and complete the new chapter in Word.

Shifting gears with IoS meant that I didn’t have the drafting mojo going for Marushka. By looking at my spreadsheets, I can see clearly that when I stopped revising IoS, about a week later, I stopped drafting Marushka. Once I got back on track with IoS (the word counts recorded in red), again, about a week later, I was able to pick up with the drafting of Marushka again.

So, clearly, while it is possible for me to work on multiple projects at once, I definitely have to be working on them in different phases (drafting vs. revising). I’ve also realized that with the exception of the blog and some short stories, that the limit of my focus with regard to multiple novel-length projects is two.

Interestingly enough, I’m getting close to the end of drafting Marushka. I’ll be short of my 75k goal for the draft, but I’m okay with that. So far what seems to be my evolving pattern is to draft short, rewrite long, and revise/edit to goal length. Will let you know if this new piece of my process puzzle proves to be effective in the long run.

After my staggered, two-week disruptions in IoS and Marushka respectively, I got back on track for the rest of the month.

Judging for the Friends of the Merril contest continues. Originally, when I was notified that my story made the long-list, I was also advised that judging would be complete by March 31st. On March 31st, a post was released on the site indicating that deliberations continued.

I have a 25% chance of placing. The delay is a little nerve-wracking, but I’m trying to remain positive. It means I have some tough competition, but that we’re all in the same quality boat.

I also spiffed up three short stories, including the one I submitted to the FotM contest, and sent them off for consideration in the Sudbury Writers’ Guild anthology.

I’d wanted to revise my longer short story for submission to a magazine, but didn’t have the energy or focus to spare.

I did, however, submit my short story “The Broken Places,” which was published in Bastion last year, for consideration in the Imaginarium anthology. It’s a year’s best anthology put out by ChiZine Publications. It’s a long shot, but I can’t win if I don’t play 😉 So sayeth the lottery gods.

Now, at the beginning of April, and with a long weekend to enjoy, I’ve decided that I’m taking a breather. I’m still burnt, and trying to work all day and then come home and write all night is making things worse.

I have a writing sample to prepare for my workshop with Julie Czerneda and Ad Astra next weekend. So . . . I’m being evil and burning through Avatar on Netflix 🙂

This past week, I walked home from work. Once. I’m still sore. Mellie is out of shape. So I’m going to get back on track with regard to that. My goal is to walk home from work three evenings a week. It’s about five kilometres and takes about an hour. I have a number of books on Audible ready for the purpose.

There are a couple of anthologies that I’d like to write stories for in April, but I’m not sure if I’m going to manage them. My main goal is to complete this round of revision on IoS and my draft of Marushka. Anything else is gravy. Not saying that I’m purposefully disregarding these anthologies; I like gravy, but I’m also aware of my limitations, now more than ever.

Once that’s done, I’m going to shift gears again with IoS and get into query mode and I’ll then be completing my draft of Gerod and the Lions.

Those are my goals for the intermediate future.

Now to take a look at my progress for the month:

March Writing Progress

IoS Revisions (remember these are half counts, except for the new chapter in red, which were all new words): 11,901 words. Compare this with 11,851 in February, and 7,789 in January. I’m at the 50% mark of the novel.

Bloggage: 7,200 words. This has held more or less steady with 6,676 words in February and 8,432 words in January. I’m at 23% of my annual goal, which is more or less where I expected to be for March (one quarter through the year).

Drafting Marushka: 4,520 words in March; 3,859 in February; and my blow-me-away 9,462 in January. I’m at 44% of my drafting goal. I might make 60% by the time the story is finished.

Short stories: 90 words in March; 1,206 in February; and 34 in January. I’m at 27% of my goal for the year which is good.

Totals: 23,711 for March; 23,592 for February; 25,717 for January.

March Summary

So there we are.

Progress is, as ever, being made.

Now, season 3 of Avatar is calling, and Bitten this evening.

Have a lovely Easter, everyone.

See you on Tipdsay!

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