Posts Tagged ‘workshop’

An Update:

Yeah, It’s been awhile and I’d promised regular updates about the novel and stuff, so …


Me!The novel’s going well. It’s still not done (and probably won’t be done in time for the highly esteemed writing workshop I’m attending in June.) A few weeks ago I was really stressing about being behind on the book, but the coordinator, Bradley said that it wasn’t uncommon for folks to bring incomplete work. So … whew.

But, I’m extremely happy with it. It’s easily the best novel I’ve written so far. Not that it hasn’t had its challenges; I had to break up the original outline and the story’s gone in a different direction than I’d originally thought. Most importantly, it’s moving much faster than I’d plotted for, and … well, a faster moving book sounds a lot better anyway.

My initial readers have been incredibly helpful with the first fifty pages. I’ve rewritten based on their notes and sent the first fifty pages to secondary readers and the workshop. Last week I received everyone else’s first 50. Which means:

  1. I have 110,000 words of other people’s fiction to read … and soon!
  2. I’m having that same feeling I had when I first went to Clarion. “How Did I Get in Here?” Everyone’s stuff is so good and it makes mine look … well, not so good. I’m overwhelmed with all the talent in Wellspring. Whew.


I’ve also been rewriting tons of short stories from my to-be-rewritten folder and sending them out. I’m back up to thirteen stories in the mail, which … I know generally people think is pretty good. It’s low for how many I used to keep in the mail, but I’m working my way up again.

My brain has been an idea machine lately. To keep myself focused, I’ve basically been just jotting the ideas down for later and going back to the novel. It’s important to me to find a balance between the novel and shorter work. I didn’t like the feeling of spending all of 2009 with the novel swallowing my life while not producing anything else. I feel confident that I’m doing a better job now.

Other aspects of my life

My moving date kept getting pushed back, but I have a truck and a date and people helping. I and all my stuff will be in Portland on Saturday, May 14th. I’m still geeked about my new space and the people and Portland and and and … *squee*

My money-work life is also going well. I feel blessed that my work is challenging, interesting and creative without sucking up so much of my brain that I don’t have space for writing, art and music. I’ll be commuting from Portland to Eugene twice a week, basically spending half my time in Eugene and half in Portland. The train ride feels like a perfect time for writing and reflection.

Other details I’m geeked about: Biking around Portland, joining a gym near my house, maybe joining the Independent Publishing Resource Center and learning how to letterpress. (!!!) And I’m looking forward to connecting with more Portland writers.

I have some exciting news about my work at Shimmer Magazine, but I’ll save that for the next post. I’ve also been thinking about reposting my shimmer writing articles here when I get around to it.

Hmmm … I guess that’s everything lately …

Hmmm … But, once again I’d like to use this blog to keep a fire under my butt. So, I’m committing to a new blog post sometime in the next week and I plan to have another five stories in the mail and at least another 5000 words done on the novel by then. See you later this week.


The current novel …

So I was invited to the Wellspring Novel Workshop, which … whew … is an honor … and frankly slightly overwhelming. Wellspring takes the place of Starry Heaven this year, which is on hiatus. Starry Heaven is a spin-off of Blue Heaven. Anyway, they’re all cool high-end workshops and some pretty serious novels have come out of them. (Including Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Windup Girl” and Brenda Cooper’s “Reading The Wind.”)

And it’s great that I got invited, but of course that means needing a novel to workshop.

Now, technically I have a lot of novels. A number of years ago I wrote Never Trust A Hippie, then Dog Heaven, and then Losing Candyland. The first two were a total mess and I trunked them. I decided the third was worth re-writing and spent a year working on it. When everything was said and done …

… well, I’d learned a ton about novels and had spent a entire year on something that was still frankly a bit of a mess, and I hadn’t written any new short fiction and … it was all a bit depressing.

I sent it out anyway, but after a while (and not a few rejections) I decided Losing Candyland hadn’t really come together as a book. Actually, one agent said he liked it a lot and asked to see my next book. Losing Candyland is still waiting with a few agents, but I’m not super hopeful of it going anywhere.

So, Wellspring.

I decided I needed a new book, rather than trying to clean up Candyland again. I had about 1200 words written on a YA novel (currently called Good is a Bad Word) I’m still excited about so … here we are.

I’m trying a new process with this book. I largely wrote Losing Candyland off the cuff … and it shows. I spent some time while in Paris working out an outline and have been going back and rewriting every five or six scenes before moving on to new ones. It’s made the writing go slow, but now I have a pretty solid first fifty pages and a decent idea of where it’s going. I’ve picked out a few initial readers who I’m feeding 5K chunks to and using the feedback in the rolling rewrite.

Slow but steady, so far, so good.

Anyway, this is all to say that novel writing is still a giant headache, but I at least have a good start. The first fifty pages are due at the end of April, and I already have something for that. I’m hoping to have the rest of the manuscript done (in rolling re-write fashion) in the first week of April, get it to my second readers and hopefully get another full rewrite in before the end of April deadline.

Expect updates on word-count and general whining about pain and torture that is writing.

And … 1, 2, 3, GO!