I have thirty-five pages left to edit. They are thirty-five of the newest, and roughest, pages in the entire manuscript, but still, it’s only thirty-five pages, which is pretty exciting.
I’ve made a list of things I need to do once I’ve finally finished the draft. While my lovely readers are compiling their thoughts, I will be working on the following:
- My synopsis (ug)
- A list of thirty agents who have represented work like mine
- A query letter to send to said agents, and
- A few short works to send off to journals to see if I can’t bolster my platform a bit before sending out the query letter.
I was talking with my writing group about that last one, wondering what pieces I should polish up for submissions to journals, and they suggested I try to pull an excerpt from my manuscript. At first I thought it was impossible. They whole thing seems so interwoven that I couldn’t figure out what section could stand on it’s own, but in the pages I worked on last weekend I think I found a chunk that could suffice.
It would likely need some editing, to lay some basic story background, especially since the chunk I’m thinking of using comes late in the story, but it could be done. And actually, they are some of my favorite pages.
I also have three other short stories that have been languishing on my hard drive for years. I’m not sure how much work they would need, and in fact, I’m very curious to re-read them now that I’ve learned so much about writing as a craft. I’m hoping the holes that made them unsatisfying when I abandoned them will seem less daunting now that I have more experience. That would be great.
Then there’s the Writer’s Digest writing competition. I received a flyer for it in the mail last week. I usually toss the flyer, because I never have anything that’s polished enough (because I’ve been working on the novel FOREVER), but this might be the year I submit. The early-bird deadline isn’t until May 6th. I bet I could put something together for that. I know the odds of winning are slim, because they get a brazillion entries, but if I don’t enter I definitely won’t win, right?
It’s time to start putting my work out there.
On Monday I posted about a panel I’m going to be on next week, about branding in the modern age. In that post I said that I’m “someone who does branding professionally.” This is true, but as I reread it, I can’t help but cringe.
As someone who works on branding and marketing professionally, all day every day, I have come to hate my website. It needs a lot of work.
Here’s the thing – when I set up this website, which is actually the third design iteration of aprildavila.com – I was in a very different place as a writer. Back then, I was working as a freelance writer. I was looking for work anywhere and everywhere. I needed to showcase my feature articles, my travel writing, and my copyediting, not to mention my fiction.
But the day I took this full time gig, that all changed. I don’t have time for writing assignments. While there is a part of me that would love to write more features, the truth is, I don’t have time. And nothing makes a girl prioritize like a serious time crunch.
All I want to write (outside of work) is fiction. Fiction, fiction, fiction.
And all I want to blog about is my fiction. In fact, looking over my posts since September, when I started full time, almost all of my posts have been about fiction writing. So I need to do some serious re-branding.
So I’ve started to think about another website overhaul. (As a side note, I tell clients at work that websites need to be completely updated every two years. They never believe me, they want their sites to last a decade, but things just change too quickly for that. I last renovated my site in early 2011. So I’m totally practicing what I preach here.) I want the new one to still be centered around the blog, but I’m going to downplay all my writing that isn’t fiction.
Instead of pushing myself as a writer who can and will write anything (which you have to do when you’re living the freelance life), I’m going to change the site to reflect what I really am now – a full time working mom and wife who takes advantage of every free minute to try to finish her novel and get it published.
I’m still working on design ideas, so it may be a few months in the making still, but doubt not – it’s coming.
A few weeks ago I received an email from a science fiction writer friend named Amy Sterling Casil
Well, Amy and I kept in touch, and as it turns out, she is the Scripps Alumna-In-Residence
I’m excited and honored to be invited. As a writer I’m drawn to the Wilde reference, and as someone who does branding professionally, I feel like I have a fair amount I can bring to the discussion.
After a little internet stalking, I’ve learned that my fellow Scripps alumnae panel members include two marketing experts, a talent agent and someone who may or may not be a journalist (there were multiple returns on her name in google – so that’s my best guess).
If you happen to be near Claremont, CA, next Wednesday (Feb. 13), the panel is going on from 7:30 to 9. You can find more info here.
I need to publish more short fiction.
Everyone is always saying that you need to get published in literary journals if you want to prove to potential agents/publishers/audiences that you are worth reading. You have to build your platform. This is what they say.
When my novel was in its nascent stages I was actually sending out short stories, and had some luck with getting them published, but it’s been years. I need some current work to go out into the world.
I was voicing this concern to my writing group last week and they reminded me that I actually do have some short stories that I’ve worked on in the past years, I just haven’t gotten them across the finish line. So I think, when I finish this draft of the novel, I will send it off to my trusted round two readers and pull out those short stories.
When I last sent out the novel for feedback I took two months away from my fiction. I didn’t write at all. And now I’m kicking myself. This time around, I’m hoping to finish two of my short stories while I vacation from the novel, so that I can be submitting them to journals while I do the next round of edits on the manuscript.
It’s a little daunting, but as I was saying in my last post, I am enjoying my current writing fitness. And taking two months off would be no good on that front anyway. So I guess I need to brace myself. No rest for the wicked.
It’s my impression, that when people take “real” jobs, they usually have a while to prepare themselves. You know, just a week or two to figure out what they’re going to do with the kids, how they’re going to commute, and all that. Well, since I was already working for this company as a freelancer, and because there was a lot of work to get done, and since I signed my contracts on the first of the month, I decided to just jump on in and ride this full-time thing like some county fair roller coaster (you know the kind, where half the fun is the danger that the thing could go off the rails at any moment?)
So I guess it’s not too surprising that the last week and half have felt pretty hectic. To make things even more exciting, my first week also happened to be my daughters first week of kindergarten (that’s her on the left in her uniform on the first day – man, I adore her), and Daniel started a new project that has him super busy. Then there’s the little guy, who is, generally speaking, very easy, but who nonetheless needs to be fed, showered and taken to “school” twice a week in the afternoons. It’s been a scheduling nightmare.
Thankfully, we got our girl signed up for some after school programs which started this week and have bought us a few days of sanity. The rest, we’ll just have to juggle as we go.
On the plus side, my new boss bought me a fancy new MacBook Pro with a big-ol monitor. I’ve been working on a little screen for so long, that when I did finally get all my files transferred over and the big screen whirred to life – I felt like I was working on a football field. So much room to put windows next to each other, and not have to bounce in and out programs. Also – I have to say that walking into the Mac store and saying something like “I’m here for my computer,” was really fun. My boss (still getting used to that word) ordered it ahead of time, so all I had to do was go pick it up.
Also, I am very happy to report that I have found time to keep working on the novel. For the past three mornings I’ve been getting up at 5:15, nursing a cup of coffee and enjoying the perfect silence of the house as I plug away at the story. I’m actually amazed at how productive the time has been. I only have an hour, but it’s really good time. I had a little break through on the story this morning that has me excited enough that I may actually keep this up-before-dawn routine going. I might even become (gasp) a morning person.
So that’s the haps. I’m still considering myself in transition, so you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little less regular with the posts right now, but I can already see how things will settle in. And it’s looking good.
There’s big goings on ’round these parts as of late.
I mentioned a few months ago that my biggest client asked what it would take to get me to give up this freelance life and come on as full time employee. The way he broached the subject, I kind of figured he was talking way down the line, but times flies, companies flourish (even in this economy) and all of a sudden, he’s making me an offer I can’t refuse.
So I am now a full time employee of Tripepi Smith and Associates. It’s a great company, and I really like the work I’m doing (which is pretty much the same work I was doing before, just more of it). The exciting thing for me is that I don’t have to be constantly scrambling to find clients, I don’t have to deal with invoicing, and I still get work on my own schedule, from home.
But then, that last bit there is a little sticky. See, the space I work out of at my home is about to be transformed into my mom’s room. My mom, who has been hating living in Oakland for a long time, and struggling to make payments on her home, has finally decided to move on. She is packing up her whole life, renting out the house, and living with me and my family while she figures out what’s next. I’m very excited to have her (Daniel and I may actually have a regular date night with her on hand to help out), but the change in living arrangements meant I had to seek out a new office space.
Tripepi Smith is located in Orange County, and there’s no way I’m commuting down that far every day, so I checked out some co-working spaces here in LA. I found one called Kleverdog, in Chinatown. This is my first day here. I left the house as soon as the nanny arrived, drove the three mile commute, and was working away by 8:30. So far so good. What’s more, they’re having a special today, and so I bought a 10 day card for $75. Only $7.50 a day to come work in a quiet, air conditioned, free wifi, free coffee, free cookie environment (they’ll be lucky to break even after I have my fill of coffee and cookies). I’m absolutely loving it. A complete delineation between home life and work life – what a thing. While I’m here I can’t do laundry, or wash a dish. There is nothing nagging me but the work.
But, the one thing I have missed all day is my little boy. It’s not like I really see much of him during a regular work day anyway (I usually disappear into my office as soon as the nanny arrives), but he hears me every time I come out to make myself a cup of coffee and comes running. “Ah!” he yells and does his little bow-legged trot up to me. I toss him in the air and get a little snuggle action while the coffee brews, then it’s back to work. Kelverdog ain’t got nothing that compares with that.
Still, most moms have to take this step away from their babies after a very short maternity leave, so I’ll just count myself lucky and keep moving forward.
The one thing I must, must, must do now is figure out how to make time for my fiction. I am truly fortunate to have found full time employment as a writer, but what I really want to do is finish my novel. One of the women in my writing group suggested getting up early, before the kids. They get up at 6:30, so I’d have to be up by 5:15 to get an hour of writing in (after accounting for the 15 minutes it takes the coffee to kick in). Or I can try and write at night (but frankly, I’m so stinking tired at the end of the day, it rarely happens). This dilemma has been a a fairly serious source of stress. It’s the one big unanswered question in the wake of all these changes.