We’re at now, now

Posted: June 3, 2013 in Twelve
Tags: , ,

Have you ever caught yourself up in the fantasy of how life would be better if only this one thing happened and then everything else would fall into place perfectly?

I’ve been doing that lately. To be more specific, I’ve been playing that dreaded “What If…” game that everyone plays once in a while. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m not the first writer who has played the game of imagining their story finished, beautifully edited with a stunning cover and rave reviews. Or imagining what life would be like with just a little supplemental income from the story that has been slaved over for what seems like forever.

My theory is that part of this problem of not being able to focus on the here and now is in part caused by being on the cusp of summer. I work as an interpreter in an educational setting, which means summers I am at my leisure to do as I please. The hope is always to take in some extra freelance work but this year I’ve also added “finish my novel” to the docket. Being a habitual planner who loves to make charts and plans for success I’ve already set word count goals for the months of June and July. Based on the knowledge of what I’ve already plotted for in my novel I am firmly of the belief that with my current plan I can be finished by the end of July after CampNano. This brings the goal of a finished book into the realm of “so close I can almost taste it”, at least to the part of the brain in charge of imagination.

Already, the area of imagination soars away with what finishing a first draft means. It means a rewrite, beta readers, another rewrite, and God willing, something that doesn’t suck too much so I can be happy with. Then starts the plans of self-publishing, and if you’ve ever thought of self-publishing you can imagine along with me all the minute details involved in preparing a manuscript for that horse and pony show. I want this book to be the best possible book it can be…and at the same time I’m already craving gratification.

I look back fondly of my younger years when I was highly involved in fanfiction and RPGs (both rants for another day). I finished a chapter, looked it over, and sent it into the interwebs. I then patiently awaited reviews, which typically didn’t take long. I crave feedback. I even enjoyed it when I took writing classes in college and was subjected to the worrisome critique once every two weeks. Granted, all feedback comes with that initial worry and scare that something will be terribly wrong and the whole thing is crap, but I typically knew what I put out there was the best quality I could offer and would be and enjoyable read even if it needed some tweaking (which it always did). Writing this book is the longest I’ve worked on something with almost no feedback at all, and its driving me a little nuts.

In an attempt to focus myself, this is the writing plan for this summer. In the next few months I will look Word Count in the face and force it to submit. This is no small task. Writing 1,000 words per day, week days only seems like a do-able goal. The problem is it requires focus and practice to be able to reach that goal. I’m out of practice. I’ll admit that. I remember a time when I could crank that out no problem and then some. Not anymore. Now I write, stare at the screen until my brain hurts, count it up and feel like I must have done so much more than the 300 words the screen says I have achieved. Hugh Howey mentions in his post to aspiring authors that you need to form the habit of writing everyday and accepting the fact that you have to learn to stare at a blank screen for a long time as you try to force those words into existence. Being able to stare at the blank screen and not become distracted by something else is a great achievement, preparation for being able to actually crank out the story you have inside but are struggling to find the words for.

That stage is where I am currently stuck. 1,000 words seems like so much now. The hope is that after one month I should be in a good place for CampNano to crank out 50,000 words. These word count goals come complete with complicated charts that took what was probably more time than they’re worth in Excel, but they make me so happy. Current word count – starting word count = words written today. And then the chart takes that number and subtracts it from the goal of 1,000 and tells me how much I have left to write. If I stick to my plan of only writing Monday through Friday during June and actually make my word counts I’ll have 20,000 words to add to my current total of 21,000. Succeeding at CampNano adds 50,000 for a grand total of 91,000 in two months. If I’m not finished with the first draft by then, or close to it I cannot put into words how upset I may become. Nor can I fathom how much fluff might have been added in the search for word count if that is the case.

 

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