Friday, August 19, 2005

Preparing for the Writing Life

I'm in the great metropolis of Winston-Salem, NC,* today getting ready to do what I hope will be my last NASA teacher-training workshop. I've spent much of this past week trying to get things wrapped up at work. I still don't know exactly when I'll be leaving. I had wanted to give my boss a month's notice, but by the time I was able to catch her in (she travels a lot), it was the 15th already. She asked to speak to me on Monday, though I don't know entirely about what. Having made this decision, there's nothing she can offer me that will entice me to stay. So, either the 1st or the 15th of September (I decided to leave that much up to her) will be my last official day. I did offer to work half time to finish up some of the projects we're committed to, but she hasn't made a decision on that either. While not taking me up on my offer wouldn't be terribly wise, in truth, I'd be happier if she didn't. I want to devote myself to writing. More on that after Monday.

I finished reading The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing on the plane today. It's a very good book, with essays by some prominent names in fiction (including people such as Stephen King and Tom Clancy). Well worth the read, even if some essays are more valuable than others. I did run across an article on the "writing ritual" that really seemed logical to me, so I think that's how I will approach writing this novel. The routine goes something like this: First thing in the morning, re-read the material written during the previous day. Revise, revise, revise. Once that's done, continue from that point to meet the day's quota (whatever that may be, time or pages). Don't worry too much about the writing itself, since it's just going to get revised tomorrow. The logic of this is that revision process (the easy part for me) gets you warmed up and into the story so that you can get right into writing new material. Your critical side is satisfied during the first phase, while the creative side is unfettered during the second. Makes a lot of sense. I also read a couple of very interesting essays on setting as well, but I'll save that for a future post.

I met one of my co-workers who was already here, and we went out to dinner last night. I gave her a little bit of the background for the Exodus Project stories (see this entry and this one, if you are interested) as well as a plot synopsis of the current novel. She seemed pretty excited about it (though, of course, she may have just been being polite!), and I have to admit, I became more excited about it in the telling. As I mentioned before, this is really something of a "throw-away" novel that I'm using just to practice the techniques I'm learning, but talking with my friend about it has really gotten me motivated to write it!

*Actually, I'm in Kernersville, for those that know the area.

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