Category Archives: Goals

Editing, the non-thrilling part of writing

So, I am about a third of the way through the final edit on the manuscript for my dragon novel, Dragon Venom. Oi, it’s a tedious process– going back and fixing all those little typos and dropped commas and whatnot. Also changing some of the names of places, as I wasn’t satisfied with the names as they were. I tried a naming scheme for the places that just didn’t quite work out, so all of those need to be fixed, doublechecked, and then the map needs to be re-drawn. My artist and my Photoshop consultant both need to be consulted regarding the changes, and the changes applied to those things.

But, it’s looking good. If I can keep things on track and get over this nasty cold that the kids brought home, I am looking at a June release date. Which, yeah, is ambitious, considering how crazy things are this month, but I am really looking forwards to getting this novel published and out there where people can read it. You can get all the feedback possible from your first readers, but there’s nothing quite like having actual readers reading your work.

I’m also working as an editor on another project, not for money, just for the love. It’s not a very big project, just a short story collection, but I hope to get it done very quickly. Then, I’m going to be working on the next novel in the dragon series, plus I am outlining a suspense novel. Whew. Lots to be done!

Progress and The Idiot

The thing about chronic illness is that it plays merry hell with your writing production.

I was reminded of this powerfully this month, not only because I have spent the past six weeks suffering through this stupid cancer treatment and a very bad arthritis flare simultaneously, but also because I finally finished reading Dostoyevsky’s novel “The Idiot.”

In my own life, my arthritis flares start with fatigue so all-encompassing that I could easily sleep 20 hours a day if I wasn’t forced out of bed to deal with reality. And when I am out dealing with life, I am functioning about as well as a zombie might. Once the fatigue passes, the pain begins, and typing is just one of the many things that becomes nearly impossible.

Dostoyevsky wrote “The Idiot” during a turbulent period in his life, and it’s possible to watch his own illness come and go in the quality of the plotting and writing. Some sections of the novel crackle with energy and the plot hums along without any hesitation. And then there are the sections where there’s hesitancy, redundancy, and a slight bewilderment in the plotting. Those periods are followed by chapters that suddenly introduce a narrator, who digresses about authorial intent and writing techniques. All in all, “The Idiot” is an at-times bizarre mess of a novel.

But it’s a grand mess, a touching long rumination about the nature of goodness, the difficulties of living in the real world with real sinful humanity all around you, and it also functions as a venue to explore the worries and fears of a man who was afflicted with epilepsy (as was the titular character.) It took me months to read through it, mostly because it required concentration and a lot of patience. The more confused chapters are difficult to get through, and whether or not Dostoyevsky purposefully wrote them that was as a reflection of his character’s mood or if it was an unconscious reflection of his own mental state, they’re very hard to get through. Once the characters leave Petersburg for Pavlovsk, the narrative meanders and doubles back according to whimsy.

I have started working again, although of course I am more than a month behind on my goals and stated ambitions. And I can only say that sometimes Reality steps in and makes its own goals the primary ones. Getting through each day, trying to get the very basic things of life done, it leaves no time for art or craft. If you can’t even remotely figure out how you’re going to cook dinner or make it to the dentist without falling apart, it’s a pretty good bet that you’re not going to be working at any sort of artistic high point.

So, I will continue to work. And I will update when I am done. It shouldn’t be too long, however. My birthday is soon and I want to be out with the old and in with the new, so to speak. Getting these old projects off my to-do list would clear the decks for more new things.

New Year, same old resolution

It’s funny how the end of the year makes you really stop and re-assess your progress. On paper, my year doesn’t look so awful.

1 novel written, 3 picture books written, novel submitted to a contest, one of the picture books submitted to several agents.

Looks fairly productive, doesn’t it?

Only I know that I could have done much better if I had really stuck to my writing goals. I pretty much stopped my daily writing as soon as the novel was finished and I didn’t pick it back up again, no matter how much I told myself that I intended to.

So, my new year’s resolution is pretty stale and old: Write more!

It’s not exciting, it’s not thrilling, and all it promises me is at least an hour a day of generally frustrating time spent working. I have a lot of other things that I need to do this year, but getting back to work as a writer is something that I do mainly for myself. It’s certainly not a Get Rich Quick scheme. It’s not going to make me healthier or make my family happier. It’s something I do just to please myself, something that only really rewards me. And the rewards only come with that sense of accomplishment when something is finished or sold. Sooooo . . . some more goals:

I want to finish one more novel in 2013.

I want to write and publish one nonfiction e-book in 2013.

I want to sell at least 3 short stories in 2013.

I want to edit and polish my first novel again and find an agent for it.

I want to polish and edit my 3 picture books again and find an agent for them, too.

I want to write 3 more picture books.

Pretty ambitious, but not out of reach. I think that I can accomplish all of the writing goals. The goals of selling and getting an agent are less under my control, but definitely possible. I just have to keep working at it.

So, 2013 is going to be a busy year!


The Cliffs Notes Version

I’ve decided that I will never finish the Modern Library’s Top 100 novels list unless I read a book a week from now until my 40th birthday. Even then, it’s going to be close, squeaking in under the wire.

To start my journey into classic fiction, I started reading “The Sound and the Fury” yesterday.


Talk about a novel for which you NEED the Cliffs notes. I’m using some online web resource instead, but I have to have someone point me in the right direction while I’m reading. As in “What the heck is happening here?” and “When is this happening? He has like sixteen different time periods in ONE STINKING CHAPTER” and a lot of other things which I can’t publish because they’re profane.

I have a love/hate relationship with Faulkner. There is no one finer at baffling you, that’s for sure.

I feel generally good about this challenge. I can read about a page per minute, so a typical novel takes me about 6 hours to read. Stretched over the course of a week, it’s eminently do-able. I just have to have the sand, the steel,  the sheer gumption to stick with it. I can’t hit 40 and have failed this quest. For it is a quest . . . reading each novel is a journey with a dragon to slay. And you never know who you’ll be when you come out at the other end.

Ambiguity intended: sometimes, the dragon eats YOU.

So, this is my sole New Year resolution, my only hope and dream for the year. Of course there’s lots of stuff about the kids and weight loss and fitness and such– those are all long term goals that won’t simply be resolved in a year. These books WILL be finished, by hook or by crook. I want to be able to say that I read them, not because it will impress anyone but because it will make me happy. I will feel a sense of accomplishment that I currently lack. I will feel “freed” of the burden of being an uneducated woman. Sure, I haven’t read everything, I can say, but I HAVE read the Modern Library’s list of the Top 100 novels. Not bad for a trailer trash girl from Arizona.


(Disclaimer: I only lived in a trailer park for a month as a child. It just SOUNDS so good, you know? lol)