Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Works In Progress, Works Outlined, and A Writer’s Etiquette

I currently have twenty four works that are either in progress or outlined and waiting. That isn’t counting any adaptation scripts, since I am counting the novels. There would have been more than twenty-four, but when my last laptop suddenly died I lost several pieces of work. Some I can resurrect, but others I can’t seem to recall the details beyond a word or two from the title and a piece of the idea.

More story ideas come to me each day, though I don’t always write them down because I can spot the material obviously meant only for my mind. I have an excellent imagination, which isn’t always a good thing. I can write in third person or first person. As to that, I don’t really have a preference when reading (though I avoid present tense like the plague), however I do tend to use first person with YA material and third person with everything else. In YA, it has been my experience with that age group that they prefer first person. None of them really explain why that is to me, not very well anyway. Still, it’s what I have seen.

When it comes to length, I tend to stay right around 100,000 – give or take five thousand odd words. The most novels I have written in a year’s time is five. The greatest word count I achieved in one sitting was twelve thousand. I recall those high-count days very well, as the material seemed to keep flowing and I couldn’t bring myself to stop until I was in distracting physical pain.

And the more I write, the faster I type. I have no idea what the number would be, but I can tell is absurdly higher than what it was four years ago. And I never have to look at the keys like I did in High School. :)

You know, I am my greatest enemy, my worst critic, etc. In editing I am so obsessive in wanting to achieve perfection that other people have to stop me from over-editing and thus destroying the work. Yet, I have very tough skin, so to speak, for a writer. Criticism of my work doesn’t devastate me or anywhere near that result. I’m also open minded, good at listening to the opinions of others, considering them appropriately, and deciding whether their point(s) is valid or not. For the most part, I’m competent at weeding out the good advice from the bad.

Perhaps most importantly, I know how to conduct myself as a writer. I don’t ever react overtly defensive (hinting at a closed mind), with vengeance, or with any other behavior unbecoming of a writer around my peers, reviewers, agents, editors, etc. As well, I remember my ‘please and thank you’ routine. I know how to properly address someone, and do so with respect. I don’t whine about rejections on message boards and I don’t anonymously slam reviewers, etc. I’ve never reviewed a book on Amazon for spite, which seems to be a common occurrence. My Mother taught me that I should treat people the way I want to be treated. Thus, that is how I conduct myself. There are many other etiquette mistakes writers make these days and it makes me sad. Sometimes I wish some professional with a lot of clout could give a free lecture on YouTube or something. Sure, maybe only a small portion of writers will change, but isn’t a small portion worth the effort? I wonder if that makes me an idealist. Funny, I had always thought I leaned toward pessimism.

In writing this blog post, I don’t mean to sound like I think I am better than anyone else. I only intend to give my perspective on the subject. It occurred to me that this could all be perceived differently and I wanted to make that known, clear.

Anyhow, so I have the twenty-four works. Some of them are spec scripts (3) and six of the number include the first in a series (so six series in the works). In other words, I have an awful lot on my plate. I have to force myself to keep to one or two projects at a time; Otherwise progress is slow or practically nonexistent. Writing is my primary job and I have my own pile to work through/on.

Currently I am working on the first in the Nevaeh Series, Nightmares of Nevaeh’; I’m editing it. The second is a script for the Academy’s competition. However, I have not decided for sure if I will be entering. If it isn’t polished enough by the deadline I refuse to put it out there.

Speaking of contests, I apparently am not moving forward in the ABNA, as I suspected and noted in an earlier blog. On the other hand, I did make it past the first cut. Two reviewers reviewed my excerpt (and it was so bad when I turned it in that I dread to read, yet am eager to learn, the two being given to me). Since no one has any idea about the numbers in the competition, I would have to base this percentage on the projected numbers in the rules. In that case, I made it into the top 20%, perhaps even the top 10%. Either way, it isn’t bad. And they liked my pitch (which I didn’t, so who knows?). Congrats to those who made this latest cut though! :)

I think I will send NoN for a professional evaluation soon. Since I am doing that, I may work on one of my lighter novels, a comedy maybe. Everything has been so stressful and serious for years. I also have a funny non-fiction I could work on. We’ll see.

Among the twenty four on my list is a really controversial novel. It’s very clear in my head and exceptionally powerful. However, I do not like to write controversy. I also think that each book has it’s time. Unfortunately, I think this book’s peak time is fast approaching. I probably should put it higher on my work list. Yet, I do not want to be tossed back and forth violently amid public opinion and possibly targeted for physical harm or murder. No, I am not being dramatic. The book is that controversial. So you see, it may never be seen by anyone but me and those closest to me. On the other hand, I wonder if I am wrong to keep the underlying message of the novel from being communicated with readers. I write to entertain, not with agendas. If there are any messages in my novels they are positive ones. And this controversial book makes me question a lot of things. Maybe I would be lucky and it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe it will be worse. The point is I need to write the novel soon if I am going to do it and I can’t decide if I should. Ugh.

I believe I will start posting book reviews regularly in my blog. Sure I know that hardly anyone will care to read them. It is just that I read SO MANY books that I think I should do something for the ones that really catch my attention. Primarily I will review romance novels and YA novels.

Well, that’s enough for one day.

Mel

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