Saturday, January 25, 2014

Vanilla Drumming (Say What?)

"So vanilla" and "to the beat of a different drum," common sayings, yet to the extreme of one another. On a personal level, I've never fit into any sort of expectation mold.  So, I suppose, it shouldn't be surprising that in the past two years, I have discovered that it's the difference in my style that sets my writing apart.

During my years of struggling to gain traction as a writer, over and over and over once again, critique partners, instructors, and others did their best to "vanilla" my writing, so that it supposedly fit in some sort of obscure mold within traditional publishing.

I am sure this vanillaization was not intended as harmful, and in most situations, was presented as helpful and encouraging. Yes, there are conventions of styles, plotting, and characterization that readers expect; however, I've learned during my interaction with Dean Wesley Smith as instructor for online courses at WGM Publishing on-line courses, that the axiom of "to thine own self be true" is one to live by.

Yes, there are conventions and reader expectations; however, getting deep into character and allowing the characters story to unfold, as the character's story, without so many constraints and revisions that the writing is watered down and comes across as the same-old, same-old, is possible. Otherwise, Author A's books sounds like Author B's book, etc., etc., etc.

Yes, a different style is DIFFERENT. Whereas vanilla is more most-people-will-be-okay-with-it sort of thing, difference can be polarizing. More than likely, because of the difference, some will find the style appealing, while others will dislike the stye, more than likely because of that very difference.

"So, what make YOUR writing so different?" I can hear the question echoing now.

Truly, since writers are supposedly not a good judge of their own work, please know that I don't judge my own writing as better, shinier, sharper, etc.

Different style in regards to my writing means:
  • Even though I "added to" the first drafts, the books have not had the life edited out of them. (They still retain the feel and atmosphere of the first draft, only expanded.)
  • The style is stark, but deep. Deep into character, not a lot of exposition or back story, which means the stories move at a fast pace.
  • Several plot twists that the reader might not see coming are included. (I certainly didn't perceive them, even as I wrote.)
Other than that, there's only my sense of the difference...not good or bad...just different from the norm.

I am so excited to get more reader feedback on this. An interesting journey, indeed.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Weeding The Garden (Tradeoffs and the Writing Life)

2013 brought challenges for my writing life.

First off, a situation arose in that when I traveled to an area with little phone or internet access, I returned to a personal attack on a social media site. Supposedly, I was an awful person for not responding to someone's texts and voice mails. "You never really know someone..." (Um, see access...hello!)

The odd thing was, that I had shared beforehand with this person about the upcoming trip and the possible lack of contact. Okay, while this person may have, for whatever reason, forgotten about the trip, bottom line was that he/she chose a victim role over true friendship.

Since my priority was and continues to be to interact with family, friends, and my writing in a healthy manner, in order to continue to do so without negativity and distractions, I found it necessary to weed such immaturity and neediness out of my life. So as sad, as difficult, and as hurtful as it was, I chose to cease contact with this person.

In order to avoid the continued, escalating drama, I had to let go of this years-long friendship. I was heartbroken and still miss that person to this day; however, I know for my own personal well-being and for the other aspects of my life (writing included), I made the healthiest possible choice.

As with any of life's choices, there are tradeoffs. Such as, in order to write, giving up:
  • Television, except for a few prerecorded select shows;
  • Drama-heavy people, even through I care for and about them; and
  • Contact with with others, in order to claim writing time.
Health issues were also a challenge for me in 2013. After a year plus search for answers and help, in December I underwent a medical procedure that hopefully will lead me in the direction of better health. (If the rest of December and the beginning of January are an example, I'm most definitely on the right track.) The tradeoff of battling this illness was that I did not have as productive of a year writing-wise as I'd hoped. (Yep, tradeoffs work both ways.)

In order for the healthier aspects of ones life to grow, one must weed the negative out. So, in 2014, I shall continue to weed my garden, make tradeoffs, and write.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

SMART and Realistic Goals

For 2012 and 2013, I tended to overreach with setting writing goals, especially considering the ongoing health issue I battled. For 2014, since my main goal is to learn to gauge and set realistic goals for my writing and publishing venture, I am turning to SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Recorded, Timely) goal setting practices. 

  • Who: Me, myself, and I, plus a coach/mentor, editor, and final proofreader
  • What: Publish entire Series #1, Launch Series #2, Launch Series #3
  • Where: In front of a computer, with a pen for markup, or on Neo
  • When: January thru May or June, publish one book in Series #1 per month,
    Launch Series 2 in late spring, early summer,
    Launch Series #3 in summer/fall time-frame
  • Which: Requires daily goal setting and sitting butt in chair and writing/revising, also requires focus and concentration), with limited internet interaction
  • Why: Life-long goal, Beginning of building a backlist to be able to write books as a living
  • Units of Measurement: Completed chapters, books, tasks, stages
  • Day-by-day production schedule and accomplishments
  • Track stages, task completion, chapters completed, etc.
  • Realistic estimates, plus additional time added as a buffer, such as:
    - Complete of workshops in formatting and promotion through January into mid-February
    - Revise Book #2 in January
    - Contact e-distribution company in January
    - Publish to CreateSpace in February
  • Set Project completion goals and break down into Monthly, Weekly, Daily goals:
    - Forward Book#2 for final read-through, 1st week of January
    - Format Book #2 in editable format, 1st week of January
    - Revise 1 Chapter per day, 2nd week of January
    - Gauge pace of revision at week's end, end of 2nd week of January
    - Schedule tasks for next week, end of 2nd week of January
  • Today
    - Listen to Chapters 26 thru 29 via Dragon NaturallySpeaks
    - Polish Chapters 26 thru 29
  • Tomorrow
    - Listen to and Polish Chapters 30 thru 32
  • Next Day
    - Listen to and Polish Chapters 33 & 35
Okay, in reviewing, all current goals look realistic and reasonable. At the end of each day, I will evaluate where I stand, then at the end of each week, to step out the task steps for the following week. Reasonable, possible, doable.

May 2014 be prolific, positive, and real.