Monday, January 10, 2011

Writing When There Just Isn't Time

Last winter (well, here in New Zealand June through August is “winter”) was sheer bliss with plenty of time to write. I finished the rewrites to The Black Crown and the first draft of Exiled in the Sweet Land of Liberty, my YA set in a fictionalized version of my home town on Long Island, New York in the mid-fifties. Then I accepted what was supposed to be a contract writing assignment for the school where I used to teach, and the B&B season got off to an early start at the same time.

Well, the principal said the contract writing assignment was one month’s worth of work. It’s turned out to be six. Between that and the B&B, I’ve done little else. Oh, yes, I got a lot of writing done. Four big, fat looseleafs worth of documentation for a new program that school is initiating. But between that and my exhaustion at the end of the day after cooking and cleaning for the B&B guests, it’s been tough to do any writing of my own.

Fortunately, Exiled in the Sweet Land of Liberty is in the rewrites stage. Rewrites are challenging this time because when I wrote the first draft, I simply wrote whatever came into my head (yes, I did have a plot outline) and refused to let myself go back and revise. As a result, the book was drafted in a record 5 months. But there’s a lot of cleaning up to do.

It’s kind of like painting and papering the house, but not bothering to put away the glue, paint brushes and drop cloths as you move from room to room.

I'm starting work on a new novel now. It’s a contemporary YA tentatively titled Me and the Alpha Jerk. Sort of my rebellion against all these alpha heros you see in all these romances. No pen to paper yet, but a lot of planning. I love and hate this stage. In some ways, it’s the most creative part of what I do, but it takes time.

This does not mean I’m a plotter. What I tend to do is set out the conflict and characterization and a rough idea of where it begins and ends up along with a few major landmarks along the way. The major turning points. How I get to those turning points is pure pantser territory.

Mentally, I don’t consider myself writing until I’m actually filling up pages (or revising them). Yet, when you come right down to it, planning is just as much writing as clicking keys on the keyboard. And that I do all the time, even when my hands are scrubbing the breakfast dishes.

Writing when I’m not writing.

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