falling down, not getting up

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Abandoning a manuscript always makes me feel guilty, but some stories fall to earth and won’t fly again no matter what. Yet I’ll spend considerable time–months, years–trying to mend a failed manuscript. Because it’s my fault it failed.

A faulty premise is sometimes at the root of a failed story. And I don’t know what to do about it, but I’ll try to do something. I’ll keep working on it, re-visit, re-shape, re-do, never getting anywhere–like to the end. The rainbow remains the color of mud and the pot of gold is full of rot. Ugh!

Then comes the moment when I must decide–leave it and move on or slog through it regardless because there is something to learn from failure. Well yeah, I guess. So far I’ve got 4 failed novels–3 slogged to a finish, 1 sliding down the precipice–and I think I should let them be and kick the guilt demon in its teeth.

Thank the Muse A Fall of Diamonds is not failing. I tossed about 20,000 words on the junk heap and as of today the manuscript stands at 65,874 words and I’m making progress. waterhouse_my_sweet_rose

afternoon, mid-winter

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55,575, Possessed. Tuesday was warm and sunny. After writing 638 words on a new scene in Possessed, bringing the Chapter 18 scene to 1,219 words, I took a walk to visit a recently met neighbor, a local artist who grew up on my street and only lives a few blocks from me. She’d invited me to drop by any time. The sunlit street beckoned and I had not been out of the house for days.

My street has old family homes built decades ago, each house different from its neighbor, lots of trees–the neighborhood is carved out of what was once mostly forest and pasture land, paved lanes whiskered with grass wind off into cul de sacs. My street runs straight into town, a less than fifteen-minute walk from my house. Arriving at the dark red bungalow home of my new acquaintance, I stepped up on the porch and rang the bell. Turns out she wasn’t home, but my walk wasn’t for nothing.

Now that the dust from my Great Move has settled, it was time to get a  library card. The Andalusia Public Library, a modern brick building that used to be the post office, sits at the end of my street, couldn’t ask for a more fortuitous location. The library used to be my home away from home in pre-Internet days, and I still like to have a library card. So got my card and did something I hadn’t done in a long time–browsed the fiction shelves, inhaling the scents of pages bound in cloth and cardboard.

I spent a few minutes reading half a dozen pages of Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear, which I’ve never read, and considered checking out. I tucked it in my elbow and wandered the aisle, looking at big-name writers, meeting certain titles like old friends. Coming across Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, I traded Auel for Waugh, the rhythm of Waugh’s prose having left an inspirational impression on my mind from a prior reading, and considering the stack of thick books on my living room lamp table, Auel’s book intimidated me in its length and I decided to let it be for another time. I could tell by the pacing of the prose it would be a slow read and I wasn’t ready for it quite yet. I walked home with Waugh tucked in hand.

On the way home I passed a tree heavy with lovely hanging droops of black berries, its branches flush with glossy green leaves. Don’t know what kind of tree it is but it was striking in its berried splendor, a boon to the many birds in the neighborhood.

I’m gradually getting the measure of place.

disembodied

waterhouse_destiny.jgp54,939 words, Possessed. Thunderstorm last night, the flashing of sheet lightning startled me and Loki more than the sky-cracking thunder. Rained for maybe an hour, then the night quieted. First thing this morning, finished my manuscript review of Runaway Heart and moved onto getting words for Possessed, but only wrote 583, a new 3-page scene, something to build on. I would love to complete the novel by January 31 although I have the whole first quarter of the year to finish it. It will be a mess of course but writing is rewriting.

Finally understood how to structure Runaway Heart, so I’m feeling better about it, but Possessed has priority right now. I’ve set A Fall of Diamonds aside for a bit, but I want to get back to work on it as soon as I can.

I’m doing my best to maintain focus.

 

 

the dull sorrow of reeds

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Struggling my way toward the end of Possessed. Wrote 1,165 words this morning, hope for more in the afternoon. Have a vague sense of how the end goes, but trying not to fall into a hole of mediocrity. The novel right now has many weaknesses, but it is a first draft and I’m determined to finish it, warts, blisters and all. I’ve reached 54,356 words, not sure how long it’ll be. I’m not even sure what kind of book it is–a horror novel crossed with a romance? There’s a ghost and a tragic relationship, but can’t call it a paranormal romance because it’s nothing like what’s published in that sub genre. It is, I think, a dark fantasy, the story goes from a tragic love story to a horror story. It has taken some unexpected turns, a good thing, and I hope to find the end by the end of this month–word by word.

We’ve had some beautifully warm days here in southern Alabama for the past week. Today’s overcast, but it’s a warm 73 degrees outside. I have a short story to go out by month end, received a rejection on another short story last Thursday. Soldiering on.

 

2017!

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2016 SUCCESSES

  • Completed 1st draft of Writing Emotion ebook
  • Completed 1st draft of Runaway Heart
  • Won NANO, A Fall of Diamonds
  • Wrote 2 new short stories; submitted 5 short stories
  • Wrote 28 penpanther posts
  • Attended 2016 Literary Orange conference
  • One sale: Grave Shadows

 

2017 GOALS

Since monthly goals overwhelm me, I’m breaking the goals into quarters, giving myself some breathing space.

1st Quarter – January – March

  • Revise and restructure short story, Come Be My Love Forever. Deadline: 1/31/2017
  • Finish 1st draft of Possessed, dark fantasy romance novel. Manuscript 80% completed. 1000 words per session, M-F.
  • A Fall of Diamonds, fantasy romance. Write 2nd draft, 1000 words per session, M-F. a) Research settings. b) Map the plot action.
  • A Lamentation of Swans, epic fantasy. Revise and rewrite. (Start in February)

For Quarters 2, 3 and 4, to be determined from list:

  • A Useful Blind, mystery, rewrite into novella  (1st draft short story completed)
  • Rewrite Runaway Heart, contemporary romance, (1st draft completed)
  • A Haunting of Roses, fantasy
  • The Bone Box, horror novella, 90% completed
  • The Serene Widow, Regency novel
  • Princess of Rosenstein, Regency novel
  • Loose Daddy, literary novel
  • Death of a Young Woman, literary novel
  • Chained, fantasy romance
  • Write a short story inspired by a painting
  • Writing Short Fiction project (Spring Forward workshop)

 

 

 

 

 

puppies and kittens

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December, the lazy month when I let myself not write or even think about writing–mostly. The stress of NANO is over and I’m in recovery. And prepping for the new year. I’ve reviewed 2016, written my assessment and decided my writing goals for 2017. Will post those here New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile ...https://youtu.be/2JVq12rTuaQ

Happy New Year!

the eaves drip

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Rained last night. This morning the grass is damp, the eaves drip, desiccated leaves stick to the soles of my ballet slipper flats. I walked around the yard hoping to spot Loki’s red tag but no luck.

She caught the bracelet collar on something, managed to pull free but it unhooked and her tag fell off somewhere. Luckily I’ve got the tag from her first vaccinations with the National ID number on it so I’ll keep that one secure.

I’m in that empty head state that descends once I’ve finished a major writing endeavor like Nano but I don’t like to drift so last week I did setting development work on A Fall of Diamonds and yesterday I read over the short story I finished in October to see how to improve it.

Alabama’s winter weather shifts every day. Some days are cold, a roustabout wind hisses about the house, some days a thunderstorm shakes us and furious rain beats down, and some days outside is humid, no breeze at all, just warm, still air.

Saturday frost slicked my car’s roof and Tuesday dawned warm and misty. The pecan tree is just about bare of leaves and the squirrels have moved out for the winter.

Today I’m going to run that short story through my mind again. Maybe it doesn’t need much more work, but I’ll see. There are a few things that need doing. It has a January 31st deadline for the anthology so I expect to have it ready to go soon.

I’m planning 2017’s writing agenda. I have two stories out right now and my fingers and toes are crossed. They’re both good pieces. I’ve got a personal essay to submit too but have to go over it, make sure it’s properly polished before winging it to the chosen publication, and in January for sure I’ll be back working seriously on the second draft of  A Fall of Diamonds.

My Christmas gifts are all mailed off, 12 more days–Merry Christmas!