… I start to list all my projects and explain why they’re exciting. With a varied, ever shifting workload, there’s always an update on ongoing projects or a few new ones to catch them up on. Soon their eyes glaze over. My work isn’t exactly a predictable 9-5. Every day is vastly different than the next, so I have much more to talk about than they expected. After a while they grasp onto the one thing they know I’ve got going on: “Are you still working on the same novel?”
Unless you’re the type to pop one out every year or to toss your draft when something better comes along, novels are long term commitments. So yes, I’m working on the same novel.
Writing is my life. It’s strange to start answering someone’s question and then immediately realize that the person really has no idea what I’m talking about. I’m sure that people in a lot of fields feel that. I really have no idea what my Dad is talking about when he gets into technical jargon–sometimes far before the jargon even starts coming out. (Sorry Dad!) So how do we talk about our lives and our work in a way that helps others understand?
For me, I feel like I ought to condense my explanation. Maybe give the broad scope: I write for print and online magazines, I’m working on two books, and I freelance edit on the side. (Even that sounds like a mouthful, but believe me, that’s the short version.) And then I should focus on whatever they seem most interested in.
Do you come across this problem? How do you explain your work?
It’s amazing how much work goes on even before the pen hits the page. This morning I spent an hour scheduling interviews and communicating with various collaborators. Then came the interview prep and research. Then the actual interviews. Two today: one with a designer and one with a composer. After that, I’ll transcribe both and then locate which quotes to pull or information to use.
Once all of that is done, then I get to write. So now at 4 in the afternoon I’m finally settling down–not to write yet, but to organize outlines and update action lists.
Writing takes a lot of information gathering. Sometimes what’s inside your head is sufficient, and that’s fantastic. You’ll get through the process much more quickly that way. But as your writing projects get more complex, so does the information gathering side of things.
But that’s the fun of it, right? When we research, we get to learn about all aspects of life and interact with so many different personalities. Even though we don’t always travel far, our understanding of the world broadens with each story, each article, and each book.
If you want to engage more complex projects, I’d advise that you read through StoryForge’s articles on collaboration and networking. You can also find a few pointers on research here.
There’s something enormously refreshing about fall–yes, I live in CA. I’m keenly aware that we don’t really get fall–but the air gets a crisp edge, gourds and pumpkins arrive in markets, and I get to make as much tea as I want. It’s nostalgic and cozy. Plus, sweaters!
On top of all that, I love the surge of energy that November brings to the entire writing community. We unite for a month of sleepless, semi-stressful crunch time. And we love it.
Even though I’m not one to jump in for the 50k, I tailor the month to fit what my writing projects need. This year that means getting ahead on my novel’s 2nd draft by writing my 3rd POV scenes. If I’m going to meet my New Years goal, I’d better use the NaNo energy to help me stay on track
Maybe my next novel’s 1st draft will coincide with NaNoWriMo and I’ll truly go for the 50k. I’d love to be able to say that I actually won, but that’s just a pride thing.
What goals are you setting? Are you a NaNo rebel or do you go straight for the win? StoryForge has a full November of encouragement and writing tips coming up, and I can’t wait to dive in.