March was still a bit slow for me – vertigo sucks – but on the plus side I’ve been getting much better recently, but have been needing to do a lot of housework to catch up.
I’ve started a new short story, 7,000 words into what will be approximately 10,000 words. I’ve also fleshed out a few plot lines and tinkered with a few new ideas.
I managed last month’s critique group meeting as well, but this one (April) will be the first I’ve missed since joining the group. Instead, I’ll be in Canberra instead attending the Aurealis Awards Ceremony 😀
I spent most of September trying to edit Written By the Stars (goal 2 in my list) but essentially I’m just tinkering with sentences and getting mad. There’s something wrong with it and I can’t figure out what. I intend to ask a few people I respect from my critique group if they’d be willing to read it for me in the hopes I can find out what’s wrong or learn that I’m just being a typical picky writer.
I’ve been working some more on outlining and world building for my new first draft (goal 4) but haven’t started writing – I intend it to be my NaNoWriMo project. It’s really a fun and for once not set in an ancient world but an off-shoot of our current world – in Brisbane in fact.
Goal 5, entering and submitting more and creating short stories for such endeavours has been a bit lacking this month. I only created Kina’s Climb and I published that here on my site so can’t really submit it (but you can totally go read it 😀 ). I’d be disappointed with myself if I hadn’t already created 13 new stories so far this year and had 2 successes in submitting. Also I’m getting a lot of my submissions to the final stages, which is a sign of improvement as well.
I didn’t touch 1, or 3 or 6 again. For shame me… I really need to kick into gear on 1 and 6.
As for the added goal of learning, one has only to read my review of the Brisbane Writers’ Festival to know I showed that goal who was boss.
Not a bad month, but not a glimmering paragon of writerly magnificence. I can do better, but I could have done worse. Particularly with Etrian Odyssey IV sitting in my 3DS calling to me(and I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t give in to its call several nights).
I’ve been busy with a double dose of critiquing – seven stories for my critique group on Sunday and then another twelve for a workshop I did today – so I haven’t kept up-to-date with my round-up sorry.
This last month I wrote another 8,000 words in Keys, Clocks, Quests, wrote a new flash fiction piece, and a new short story ‘The Eighteenth Soldier'(4000 words) and started a first draft for a sequel to Charming – The Glass Witch(8,000 words so far) – so plenty of creation!
Also did some more editing, working over a few different short stories (and one is finally good enough that I’ve started submitting it!) as well as some novel editing.
So I’ve made a little progress on some of the goals I realised I was lacking work on last month, but probably need to get a little less distracted by shiny new ideas and really hammer out some work on editing as that is a big thing in the goals I’ve slacked on.
On the learning side I attended a fiction masterclass with MJ Hyland at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival which was smashing. I loved the way she interrogated some writers to help them get to the core of their story. It might at first seem brutal to be hammered with the questions, but their look of joy when the realisation dawned negated any fear from the question barrage.
I’m pretty happy with my August results and though most of my September thus far has been critiquing I’m looking forward to getting to work on edits.
I barely escaped the time consuming grasp of this game
My July round-up won’t be looking too shabby. You want to know how I know? Well if I stopped playing Animal Crossing 3DS because there was no time around all this work (and didn’t feel dreadfully tempted to jump back in) then it must have been uber busy! (Oh man, my town is going to be so full of weeds)
This month I created two new short stories (‘Glass Bones’ and ‘Nightfall’ the second of which I’ve polished and am awaiting critique group feedback on (I should get that today)) and also wrote a little over 3,000 new words in Keys, Clocks, Quests finally getting the book to the big twist/game changer (it might seem like an average high fantasy quest to this point and then BAM! I love it, in case my enthusiasm wasn’t a hint). Also, after long talks with my fabulous husband decided to begin early works on a YA trilogy. It’s in the early days of hammering out a decent plot from the loose ideas I sketched a while back, but I figure if it’s interesting to TJ it must be pretty good(the benefits of having a blunt husband). I’ve also kept up strong with submissions and added another finally good enough story to my submittable list.
In learning I critiqued a lot this month in preparation for both my critique group and the MJ Hyland fiction master class (which technically I attended in August so I won’t discuss here) and I attended the ‘Getting Published’ workshop run by Annette Barlow from Allen & Unwin’s Faber Academy(you can learn a little more about that by reading my previous post on Byron Bay Writers’ Festival workshops). If you want to know what all that critiquing taught me you can check my post here.
So it was a good month, but since I’m now past the halfway mark of the year, I’m looking at the actual goals I set myself last year and I’m frowning. I have barely touched #4, only briefly dabbled with #1, every time I try #2 I throw my hands up in the air in frustration (something is wrong but I can’t seem to pinpoint it, the very definition of frustration), work on #3 has come in dribs and drabs since I seem to be blessed with a killer new idea every few thousand words I write – and the idea usually is for a different story – and #6 I really shouldn’t be struggling so much with, but I keep thinking what’s the point of a newsletter when I have so little to report right now?
I need to buckle down on some of those other goals before the time slips right through my fingers. Hopefully, next month I’ll have some good news on a few of them.
I hope your month was just as full of productivity.
It stuns me to realise this but since February 14th I have taken my current work in progress (working title is Fanta’s Story, but I can assure you that won’t be the final title) from a story outline I transferred into Scrivener to 55,000 words. I have six scene cards – yes you read right only six scenes – until I have completed my first rough draft.
It doesn’t feel real.
I’m dead serious here. It doesn’t. I started writing Storybook Perfect (back when it was called Yui’s Tale, are you sensing a similarity with my WIP titles?) when I was sixteen. I finished it in 2009, when I was 27 and off work for two months with a (still undiagnosed) vertigo disorder. It was only a rough draft finish of course and it has gone through easily eight full edits since, but to go from the first book taking 11 years to the next taking not even two whole months… it blows my mind!
Admittedly I always have had the habit of getting distracted by something shiny and new. I would start Yui’s Tale and after a chapter or a scene or two I’d get excited about ‘the Children of Tejemanya’ or ‘Evannah’ and do some writing in them and the cycle would continue with new books starting, ideas being plotted and then distraction! I’m even the same with games. I start a game, get approximately two thirds through and then something new comes out and I just can’t help but play with it. I can count the number of games I have actually watched the ending credits roll in on one hand. Ok, I lie, I need both hands, but I’ve played easily more than triple that count, keeping my success rate at under 30%. As a quick aside, oddly enough those I’ve finished I often go back and complete AGAIN. My re-completion rate is 60%. What’s wrong with me? I don’t know.
Getting back to my point now, I am easily distracted – as I just proved in multiple ways. What I think has helped me with my current work in progress is having a child.
Yep, having a child. I have so little time that I no longer waste it watching TV or just lying around. I have to use every precious minute. It keeps me focused, makes me determined. Even though I have other projects (this blog and my other secret WIP I will reveal soon) I have been able to maintain focus and tear through this. I never had that until now.
So I want to thank my precious baby, Xander, not just for being the light of my life but for helping me write like a real author. I love you.
Kirstie Olley is an award-winning speculative fiction author and the full-time wrangler of her children Xander and Harlequin.
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