WIP Wednesday #8: Summer is here

Work in Progress

Summer finally breezed in on the 21st, and maybe with days of exceptional heat, I’ll actually feel like staying inside long enough to hop on the computer. I’ve probably only used this electronic contraption a handful of times since I last updated my website back in April. I admit, nice summer days may simply not permit me to touch so much as a smartphone. Reading and writing (pen & paper) outside is wonderful. And while I’ve spent much more time reading than writing, my time hasn’t been entirely unproductive (and I truly don’t consider reading unproductive; it just isn’t writing).

 

brick

I managed to get through the minor planned edits of my brick of a novel. I still have a small pile of sticky notes on my desk with major edits that I need to tackle. After completing those smaller edits, I realized I needed to let it rest longer, so I set it aside for all of May and June here and am only now starting to feel that I could potentially begin to grapple with The Brick again soon; though I’m not keen about screen time when it’s nice and sunny out, with the high contrast option I can at least see the screen outside. And, like I mentioned, the potential of weather in the upper 90’s might drive even me indoors.

quotation-marks

I finished (sort of) typing up my remaining dialogues . . . at least the ones I could find. Unfortunately, a few pieces went missing during the move. It’s likely that they’re in the house somewhere, but misfiled somehow. I’m not terribly worried. My wife has encouraged me to put off publishing a book of my dialogues until I have at least one more novel out in the world. The marketing makes sense to my mind; a collection of shorts is less likely to be bought and read than a novel, I believe, and I’ll have more luck getting a short story collection in bookstores if I have a publisher who is already selling my other book(s). When I feel like tackling the dialogues again, I’ll either need to find my missing stories, rewrite them from scratch, or write entirely new dialogues. Even if I do find the missing ones, it is possible I’ll write new dialogues while leaving some of the ones I wrote during my weekly challenge unpublished. Not all the dialogues came out great, which is fine for something like the writing challenge I gave myself.

Slice of Life

This spring I’ve gardened, finally finished setting up my library, and have given myself quite the to-do list for the first summer in our new home. And today I finished the outline for my next book. This is the first time I’ve outlined a novel. Descriptions of Heaven and The Brick both had notes with sentences and images, but little in the way of plot. For this book, I wanted a detailed outline; it’s a slice of life or day in the life piece following a young woman looking forward to a romantic connection. (Let’s call this new WIP Slice of Life for now.) While I’ve read that day in the life kind of books are frequently plotless, I felt that such a book needed to account for the order of events in a way that my other books, which cover large sweeps of time, did not need. Of course, I haven’t started writing the book yet, so this former “discovery writer” is about to discover if plotting will work for him or not. (I do expect it to work, BTW). If anything, finding that I’m not set in my process, but am flexible depending on the needs of the work, makes me hopeful that I can write more than one kind of book: tightly plotted or loose and digressive.

Let me know what you’re working on this summer, be it writing or roofing.

Personal Update

Callout31

When I accepted the opportunity to have Descriptions of Heaven published by Harvard Square Editions (rejecting two other small press publishers who wanted the rights to print the manuscript) I set aside a new novel I was working on at the time. I set it aside so I could devote my full attention to, at first, editing my debut and, later, marketing my book.

After Descriptions of Heaven came out, I wrote the first drafts to half a dozen short stories or so. As I like to say, all these story ideas were backed up, blocking the creative pipeline. That pipeline is a little clearer now, and I’ve begun work on my novel-in-progress again.

I’ve been working on the novel in the new library. The old library was one of the small bedrooms and did have the advantage of a small balcony where one could enjoy a book and a view. However, long-term plans finally reached fruition when my best friend, Mike Convery, moved in. I believe he owns more books than I do. So, Libby and I moved out of our large bedroom and into a smaller room, which had until then functioned as an office. I rather like our new space. It’s cozy and, for some reason, I sleep much better there (my love of tight spaces perhaps?). There’s an entrance to an attic bedroom too from the new library. Since Libs and I gave the room over to a communal space, it opened that bedroom up for her sister to move into last month, just in time for Abby to begin her first year of college classes here in Sioux City.

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My writing desk is now located in the library since there’s now no dedicated office space. I must say I don’t mind writing while surrounded by all our books (sans those piled in our respective bedrooms, plus a sole bookcase—built by my great grandfather—that sits in the living room, filled with matching hardcover classics).

As some of you know, I spent most of my summer writing at the Blue Cafe. I will admit, between sorting and shelving books, vacationing with an artist friend in Virginia, and a belated honeymoon with my wife, I did not make it much to the cafe during the months of July and August.
Sept7writingdeskAnd, as you can see, my desk is lined with post-it notes. They’re organized and essential to have for reference while writing my novel. I simply cannot take all the notes with me to the cafe. If I wrote my first draft on a computer rather than by hand (the pile of paper on the left is the hand-written manuscript) I could use the sticky notes function. However, there’s another reason that I must write here at the desk: the cafe is open only three hours during the day. Yes, I spent most of my summer writing short stories during a measly three hours. With so little time actually writing, I found myself editing at home, reading on the porch, and going on frequent walks and picnics with my new wife—all time spent well in my opinion.

But now it’s crunch time. I’m back to writing from morning until early afternoon, usually six hours (including a short lunch). The first thing I am doing is reading through what I’ve written. I have about seven chapters typed up. I’m now reading through those chapters, doing light editing as I go. At the time of composing this blog, I’m in the middle of chapter 4.

Ah, but what about those short stories? Will they be seeing themselves in print soon?
To answer that question, I’ll say that I still plan to go to the Blue Cafe once a week. You’ll find me there on Thursdays (the only weekday Mike works, which leaves me a little too lonely—I work best in a “studio setting” with the presence of others nearby). At the cafe I intend to work on my short fiction and other non-novel writing, submitting it and editing it, maybe even writing new stories should the impulse to compose be strong enough.

Some days I will also spend time on other writing-related work. But not every day. As much as I like the fantasy of a hermetic life of writing, my reality is that I have a lot more in my life to fill up my time. I write, yes, but I also do most of the household cooking, take on the major cleaning projects, keep the houseplants alive, and am essential to shopping excursions. I am a bit of a den mother—even the new members of the household have that figured out already.

I’d rather my plate be emptied of some of these duties (essentially the cleaning, as I do love cooking), that way I’d have more time for reading and studying. But, really, I don’t have any concrete complaints. My new roommates have picked up some of the chores. My cooking is now appreciated by more than just Libby and myself. I’ve found I have plenty of time for great conversations with Mike that only supplement my enjoyment of art and books. Somewhere along the line about an hour a day has opened up for me to begin studying Latin again—which is a joy for me because I’m not a natural when it comes to languages, and I love the mental challenge.

So things are going well. They’re going great. I have more time than ever to work, learn, and play. My house is full of people I love. My blind dog has more sets of hands to pet her than ever before. And my next novel is well under way.
Spet7Selfie

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