A Mitten New Year

My approximate location.

My approximate location.

Happy New Year’s Eve! This year, I am celebrating in Michigan. It is my first time here and I am doing all manner of new, exciting things: meeting my boyfriend’s extended family, rooting for the Michigan State University football team, cross-country skiing, visiting the Detroit Institute of the Arts (where I saw 6 of the surviving 42 Fabergé eggs!).

Me and my boyfriend ready for action! This California girl is not used to 24 degree weather - I am wearing two down jackets and 3 pairs of pants!

Me with my boyfriend ready for action! This California girl is not used to 24 degree weather – I am wearing two down jackets and 3 pairs of pants!

I don’t usually go in for New Year’s resolutions, because the fad is to create them and forget about them by February. Why not have goals and work on them all year round? Yes, however, I believe in goals, and my main goal for 2013 is: acquire an agent. And, oh yeah, publish this thing! My mentor cautions that many writers often don’t publish the first book they write, or they publish it later in their careers. While I keep this in mind, I still operate with the goal of publishing my first book, first.

Another exciting thing I will be taking on this coming year? I have been asked to facilitate a book group discussion in March. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how this will be different from leading discussions about fiction to a writer’s group. As a writer, thinking about the effect your work will have is inevitable, but it’s something you can’t dwell on too much. Studying literature is a necessity, but sometimes we forget the beauty in the midst of dissecting. I’m looking forward to being immersed in discussion of those who read simply for the appreciation of literature.

cross-country skiing 2

D4 Done – Happy Holidays!

Holiday Snowmen

Did I mention I finished the 4th draft of my novel? Yes, I did, earlier this month. It took 5.5 weeks. This is amazing, especially since the previous drafts each took 6-7 months. NaNoEdMo is to account for this, of course, and also I think the book is actually, finally, coming together.

xmas tree!

After profuse congratulations, my mentor talks to me about “the next draft.” This is the cycle, again, and my reactions are the same. I don’t want to hear it. This draft is it, I think, it’s as good as I can make it. A friend of mine worked diligently with her writing partner on a television pilot for months – years? – and they would send out drafts and get comments over and over again. Eventually, she told me, their readers said, It’s good. It’s done. Send it out. I hope one day my mentor will say this to me. (The little voice in my head goes, but when? When? When?!) Of course, he may never say this. I’ll have to make that decision myself. How will I know it is done? That is a whole other conversation.

Yosemite snow

My mentor also suggested I watch “Gossip Girl” – this is homework I don’t mind. The main piece of advice he has given for this moment is to relax, recharge, and refill my creative cup. I am in Yosemite with my family on Christmas Eve, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

yosemite

50 Hours COMPLETE

It’s OVER! And yes, I did it. I completed 50 hours! The members of my writers’ group all hit the 50,000-word mark and then some, as well.

NaNoEdMo Minutes

I feel: accomplished, relieved, sad.

On the final day, I had 45 minutes left to go, and I finished in an easy and controlled manner somewhere around 8pm. It was somewhat anticlimactic actually. No insane stressful rush to complete by the deadline. But this was great, because it meant I’d planned well, worked hard, and created a workable schedule for writing. Once I got used to pushing past the hour, I could keep going easily. I still encountered moments of stress, of course, in working things out to get my hours, and in sacrificing other things – but this is part of being a writer, too.

In my minute-count, I allowed myself to include bathroom breaks (only short ones) and the moments where I might look, to an outsider, as if I were staring off into space but my mind was going full-throttle. There is a character who makes paper cranes, slow when she begins to learn and fast by the time she’s done hundreds, and I included the 2.5 minutes it took for me to make a crane, to see how fast I could do it. I did not include snacking, and when I went over my mark by 2-3 minutes I rounded down.

The process was highly effective. My first two drafts took 6 months, my third 7 months, and this one will take no more than 2. Likely less, especially if I keep up the hours/day I’ve been doing. Yes, by the fourth draft, I should be revising faster anyway. But the time commitment definitely had something to do with it.

Will I keep it up?

On December 1st, the thing I most wanted to do was not write. I took the day off, went to see “Lincoln” (fun fact: I was born on his birthday), and relaxed. On the second day I went to a Christmas party and blogged. But today I returned to an hour/day at least, maybe more. I wouldn’t know what to do with my time that’s more worthwhile than being entrenched in my novel.