Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Midwesterner in Me is Displeased

So I spent much of last night and a car-ride conversation with the husband this morning trying to work out the next scene in Mina. I figured it out, but the scene lasted a total of two pages. And now I'm - what, done for the day? For somebody with what's been called a mid-west work ethic - work until you pass out, hard work is the only way to success and happiness, etc. etc. - this is tough to deal with.

I WANT to be working! I want to be writing! I want to sit here at this computer with a pug in my lap, writing until my butt falls asleep and hunger is gnawing at my stomach. Why can't I do that? Is it the lack of outlining? It's true that when I was following a strict outline I could write a whole chapter a day (10-12) pages, especially toward the end of the book. But I wasn't happy with the result. I don't know if I'll be happy with this result, but even if I am, I don't like working this way! Grr!

I'm going swimming.

Welcome to the Mid-west, where people are cold and work
hard. The latter is a stereotype; the former is just fact.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Writer's Math

Still anxious about my word/page count. I finished Chapter 16 today and the running page total is 143. I did the math and if I stay at my current rate, I should finish the novel at around 57,000 words. Anything below 60,000 is far too short. Anything below 65,000 I'll be embarrassed to query. But I'm so desperate to finish - to finally be done with this manuscript - and to get it to beta readers. I just hope they have suggestions for scenes to add.

Here's something kind of cool - if I finish this draft within a few weeks, get it straight out to betas and get their feedback within a few more weeks, I could be querying this thing by the end of June! That's cool because the agreement my husband and I originally made was that I would have one year to write - one year without a full-time job to distract me, and that year will be up on June 18, 2011. I'd like to be able to hold up my end of the bargain.

I celebrated my birthday this week with these beauties.
UPDATE (7/28/12): Those were lovely - cough - goals, but they turned out to be unrealistic. I didn't end up querying until November/December, and I'm still not back to a paying job. (Not that I want to be. I genuinely love being at home and writing.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stupid Wednesdays

I wrote nothing yesterday. My system of writing 1-2 scenes in the morning, spending the rest of the day imagining the next few scenes, then writing those scenes the next morning, apparently failed. I wrote late on Tuesday and got so caught up with laundry and cleaning that I didn't do my daily thinking. So yesterday when I sat down, I had nothing. Gotta love "hump day".

Today I wrote to p.128, so about 5 pages. Not spectacular, but I'm preoccupied with family issues, and writing when I'm anxious is not a good idea. Really, I've tried, and my narrator's voice comes out paranoid and pessimistic whether that's in character or not. But 5 pages is still something! It's still progress, and that's what counts.

By the way, I've noticed that I use the word "write" when I really mean "revise, with a lot of original writing to replace old stuff that sucks." In case anyone wanted clarification.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Estimating the Length of a MS

I've written to page 123 today, which is about two pages into Chapter 15. In previous drafts and according to the mental outline I'm using, the book will have a total of 25 chapters. Here's the math:
  • 14 complete chapters = 120 pages = approx. 8.5 pages/chapter
  • 8.5 pages/chapter x 25 chapters = estimated length of book = 214 pages
My opinion, which has been formed after researching similar books and agents and editors' opinions, is that 214 pages is too short for a YA novel. 300 pages is more acceptable. That's about 75,000 words, the approximate length of the first Harry Potter book. Other YA books I've read recently (Divergent, Across the Universe, Tithe) are much closer to 400 pages, but that seems unrealistic for this story. My goal for Mina is 65,000 - 70,000 words, or 260 - 280 pages. Here's how I figured that out:
  • I have formatted my pages to average 250 words/page (industry standard).
  • My draft currently has 31,000 words whether you do the math or just look at the bottom of the Word screen.
Original Image
So I'm . . . almost half-way done with this draft. That's a good place to be considering the places I've been in the past few months, predominantly Writersblockburgh and Anxietyville. I don't think I really had writer's block, mostly because I'm not sure if I understand what writer's block is. I've seen widely differing definitions on the subject. My lack-of-writing was the result of my anxiety getting the best of me more than anything else.

Whether I reach 65,000 words with this draft or not, I think I will be happy when it is complete, and I will depend upon my beta readers to help me pump the thing up to a respectable word count.

I think I may buy one of those colorful beta fish to celebrate when I finally reach that stage . . . although I should research their life expectancy first because as a vegetarian and someone who is sensitive to animal issues, a dead fish is not the kind of thing that will help me cope with the slew of criticism that I expect to receive from readers.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Word Count Goals

I edited 113 pages today and my brain isn't even fried yet!

Original Image
I'm still a far stretch from my goal, which is 275-300 pages. BUT, I made a decision yesterday that I thought was really impressive. It's impressive because it demonstrates how much I've relaxed since I started writing. I'm finally learning not to carry all of my worries and concerns like weights on my back. I'm not a camel! And even if I was, I'm not sure I would want to carry stuff around all the time. There must be better things to do in life.

Anyway, my impressive decision was this:
Even if I don't reach my page/word count goal by the time this draft is complete, that's okay.
I still have the beta reader stage to get through, and one of the things I'll ask my betas to watch out for is areas where I can expand the story, add more detail, etc. See? I'm learning to not try to solve all of my problems by myself. I'm comfortable with the idea of asking other people for help - in this situation, at least. I still don't want the kid at the grocery store to help me carry my bags to the car. That's just weird.

So, 113 pages edited . . . a certain number more to go until I reach the end of the story, then on to a stage I'm really looking forward to - Beta Reading! I didn't allow anybody to read Draft #1 or Draft #2 of Mina in their entirety. The most anybody has read is a complete synopsis of the book, which was 25 pages single-spaced and I've since thrown it out the window anyway in favor of thinking ahead only one scene at a time and constantly trying to build tension as I go. I figure that a natural point will come when the tension is too great and I'll have to let everything collapse - that's what I'll call the climax. The picking-up-the-pieces part will be the resolution. Yay for a beautiful, low-anxiety plan.

UPDATE (7/28/12): Looking back on this entry, I don't know what I was thinking. 113 pages revised in ONE day? I must not have been doing a great job if I really got through that much material in one sitting. Yoy. I don't know what Past Me was thinking.