I have a lot of tech set up to help me write more, write better, and get more done. And even so, I recognize that all of the bells and whistles aren't what matters. Especially when I see a post like the recent one in a writer's group I belong to where the author suggested it was time to quit.
When I was in grad school at USM, I was first assigned to work as a Writing Fellow in the Honors College. My job was to basically lead a small group of first-year students through their writing assignments for the FY Seminar. I was assigned to work with Dr. Michael Salda and Anastasia Feldman, who were team teaching the freshman class of 1995.
Dr. Salda passed away in 2015, but one of his major contributions was to create The Cinderella Project. Working with Dr. Salda, USM grad students in English created a robust site covering various versions of the Cinderella story (pulled from USM's de Grummond Collection) and digitized those, putting them on the web. What this meant was that anyone with internet access could view those texts and learn about them--they could learn, for instance, that there isn't just one culture that embraced the story, as well as see the cultural differences in how the story was told.
When I went to view The Cinderella Project, I found that it no longer exists. USM's site gives me a 404 error.
As noted in his Authuriana obituary, Dr. Salda also maintained archives on Jack & the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood. None of those archives exist anymore. Doing Google searches, though, demonstrates how powerful the projects were--many other faculty used those archives in their own classes. Syllabi and lesson plans are still floating around out there that attempt to link back to the non-existent archives.
Over at the Octave Thanet Project, I've been working my way through the primary texts in the order of publication. Part of that has involved using Google Play Books versions of those texts because:
Ultimately, this type of work is what my PhD trained me to do. And so far I'm having a blast.
While I certainly was influenced by Dr. Paul Reuben's Perspectives in American Literature site, I have to think that were it not for Dr. Salda, I might not be approaching this project in this particular way. Realizing that the work he did on those three archives is gone, I am also considering how to ensure that even once I'm gone, the resources will remain. On the bright side, you can still view snapshots of all three (see urls in the top for easy searching--the links in the snapshots do still work, so if you get to one, you can get to them all) on the WayBack Machine on the Internet Archive.
I've done NanoWriMo (with varying levels of success) since 2012 with a full on "break" last year (I had just published Homecoming and wanted a rest). So far, I'm pretty happy with my progress in the first two days. Here's what is in my survival kit.
While there's no substitute for a human editor, there are some wonderful tools which can not only help you save money and time with your editor by presenting them a cleaner manuscript from the start, but which can also help you identify patterns of error and weakness in your writing. Once you know those patterns, you can improve your writing as a whole.
The three tools above (the pictures are linked to their product pages) are the ones I use on a daily basis when writing, revising, and editing. Let's dive a bit deeper into what these are and how I use them.
I'm in that spot where I finished a big project, Elegant Freefall, and I'm wondering what to work on now. How did I know I was done with the book? When I turned my laptop off yesterday and pulled up the 50000th Kindle version on my tablet and saw a random period. I ran to my laptop, booted it up, and went to open the file in Scrivener.
Before the laptop was fully booted, I picked up my Fire and wiped the screen. My errant period was a fleck of something.
I thought that I needed some community to get things going; the problem is that as with most things that involve more than one or two people, massive groups of aspiring writers wind up in sniping wars or discussing everything but the actual writing.
So, one of the things I'm doing today is putting all of my writing related social media groups on silent.
November is National Novel Writing Month, AKA NanoWriMo. I finally hit on a project that I wanted to work on and that had potential to be a longer work. In the days between leaving my job and November 1st, I even managed to get an outline together, as well as a character list and some specific scenes down. When November 1 got here, I was off and writing.
As a birthday present to myself, I registered for the Self-Published Small Press Book Fair this year. If you didn't get a chance to visit the Book Fair, be sure to keep an eye out for it in 2019.
So, I'm not going to do a lot of big posts this month, most likely, but I will be posting on occasion to keep accountable and to let you know my progress on NanoWriMo 2017.
In preparation for this year's event, I have outlined the novel so I know the time frame (it takes place over a long weekend) and the setting, as well as the four main characters. The basic plot is this--in 2012, four college best friends reunite after 20 years over Labor Day weekend. It's Chick Lit, and it's character driven. The lame (?) tentative title is Long Weekend.
There's also a tie in to Elegant Freefall, as one of the minor characters from that novel (which is in my desk drawer at the moment, waiting for revision), is one of the four main characters in the NanoWriMo novel.
I've also been listening to old episodes of The Story Grid Podcast in preparation for this project, and love the episode titled "The Mathematics of Story Telling." It's somehow oddly comforting to know that I need 1/4 for the opening hook, 1/2 for the middle build, and 1/4 for the conclusion. There's also some great advice here about positive/negative balance for the characters.
How's your first day?
Total word count at the moment for day 1: 2185
Projected end date at this rate: November 23*
End date = 50K words. There's no guarantee that'll be the actual end of the novel.
So, I keep getting the questions: "Where are you going?" and "Have you got a new gig?" I wanted to share a little here, as it seems that even though my email that went out to faculty indicated I am going to focus on my writing, I still get the odd instant message asking me what my plans are.