Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Archive for the ‘Excuses for not writing’ Category

Project 10K – July – #amwriting #amediting

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I was all prepared to post my July goals on time, and then the weekend happened and this week started, neither of which I am going to bore you with.

June was productive and good in terms of goal achievements and I was making notes of success as I went along so here’s something I prepared earlier…..

A week into June and I was struggling. I looked at some old drafts of novels that I had planned to submit to new novel competitions, and decided they needed way too much editing to get them to a standard I’d be happy to send off. I decided I needed to concentrate on what I could achieve rather than the remote chance of winning £30000. And then I changed my mind. A couple of mornings were freed up after meetings were cancelled and I got on and re-edited the first 11000-words of my NaNo17 novel, wrote a synopsis, and emailed the lot off. I expect to hear nothing back, but this did refocus the mind on a work that has been neglected since May. The re-edit of the opening words forced me to work through the stumbling block of disconnected thoughts that were words 12-15000, and I was back on track… until the next stumbling block.

Since writing that, the deadline for shortlisted winners to be contacted has passed…… and I didn’t hear anything. I’ve managed to edit a whole 2300-words over the past two weeks.

© Flights of Fancy

Back to earlier…

Mapping my weeks has been helping in that it focuses my attention and I get things done. However, the things that don’t make it from the ‘to do’ list to the ‘to-do-in-this-slot-now-without-excuses’ list tend to be forgotten. There has been no piano or Italian practice, as these have not been scheduled. Moving things from ‘to do’ to ‘to do now’ has resulted in me editing two travel pieces I drafted moons ago and sending them off, probably to hear nothing ever again.

One went nowhere, the other you can read here. 

I submitted my novel to a further 3 agents, heard back from a short story competition that I only just missed out on being short-listed and sent that story on to a publisher who has previously commented favourably on my work…. and who hasn’t been in touch since. I also looked at magazines to submit short stories to and found I have a Submittable account that I’d completely forgotten about, not that I’ve sent anything off. And I started both stories I set as a goal for June.

© Flights of Fancy

 

As I say, June was productive for writing. July has started off badly and so my goals for the month are modest.

 

Goals for July

  1. Give up writing goals.
  2. Pull self together and write some goals.
  3. Contribute to Friday Fictioneers, as that’s an easy one.
  4. Respond to OWLG prompts by the Thursday after a Sunday post – already a fail as today is Thursday and I don’t know what last week’s prompts were.
  5. Continue editing Nano17 and Nano14 as time allows.
  6. Finish the ‘just started’ short stories and edit them once.
  7. Put up some bars over there on the right to show my progress and motivate me, because it’s a fun avoidance activity..

 

Achievements/ not in June

  1. Edit the remaining 37500 words of my NaNoWriMo 2017 novel. FAIL
  2. Post responses to the On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts by the Thursday after a Sunday post. WIN in ¾ of cases.
  3. Write two new short stories the ideas for which have been rattling around my brain for ages. ERM – I started both, but didn’t finish either.
  4. Contribute to Friday Fictioneer prompts. WIN
  5. Submit my finished WIP to agents – another three. WIN

 

Thank you Gabrielle for keeping me on my toes.

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Written by Sarah Ann

July 5, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Project 10K – April #amwriting

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© Flights of Fancy

 

March turned out to be more productive on the writing front than I could have imagined. At the end of February I decided to give a month’s notice to reduce my paid working hours come April. The universe had different ideas and I immediately lost my three times a week client, so March provided me with lots of writing time and I was able to meet my goals:

I have finished reading through my WIP.

I have entered some short story competitions and written some new words, albeit not too many.

I have looked at old short stories and started to edit a few.

I am a happy bunny as I go into April, although I do not expect my writing to fare that well this month. The next two weeks are the school holidays so hubby is home and we are entertaining friends and family. Having posted quite regularly in March, I expect my April posts will be infrequent, but I live in hope.

Putting my goals into numerical form with a bar to show how much I’ve achieved has been a great incentive as I’ve seen how far or not I’ve progressed, and I will be attempting to define my goals similarly for April.

 

Goals for April

  1. Participate in Camp Nano – edit the 50000 words I wrote last November. I really don’t expect to get this done but I do need to look at this writing again to see if it has legs.
  2. Write new short stories/ adapt old ones for short story competitions. I have a list of 7 possible deadlines to meet, so let’s aim to enter 4.
  3. Contribute to Friday Fictioneer prompts.
  4. Post responses to the On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts by the Thursday after a Sunday post.

 

With thanks to Gabrielle for keeping me motivated and on my toes.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

April 1, 2018 at 5:32 pm

#WorkLifeBalance Revised

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February provided some time for reflection and prospective changes at work forced me to re-evaluate what is important. What do I want to do with my life? As I gallop thought middle-age, I am still waiting to find out what I want to do when I grow up. Where paid employment is concerned I have always gone with the flow and grabbed any opportunity going. I adapt and learn, become good at whatever I’m doing, but am prepared to move on, never having been wedded to the perfect job.

As the focus of my current role changes, to one I am not happy with, I have decided that my writing has to come first. I am in the lucky position of being able to pull back from work for a little while to focus my energy on my words. The last time I wrote full-time I started to go a bit nuts with the social isolation and went back to work because I am a boring person to spend all my waking hours with. Now the balance has shifted too far towards work and I am losing the time I need to write, hence the current re-evaluation. I’m not sure how this will work out, but I know I need to re-focus on my writing to make progress. And who knows, I might even get back to my Italian lessons as well as some long neglected piano practice. I have continued with crochet and, after most relatives and friends received crocheted Christmas decorations, my favourite work colleagues are in line for crocheted leaving presents. Please feel sorry for them.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

March 17, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Project 10K – January 2018

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You might be able to tell how well January is going with goals given that we’re a third of the way through already.

The goals for this month are to get the first third of my WIP re-written (1) and ready to resubmit (2) to my prospective agent by the end of the month. I don’t think it will be sent of by 31st but as long as it’s ready for a re-read prior to sending I will be happy. This task has been taken up again this week and is bigger than I’d hoped as chapters chop, change and dive-bomb all over the place.

 

December goals were partially met, and I’m posting all of Flights of Fancy’s badges as achieved in different areas.

  1. Read 9 books and get them back to the library by the end of the month.

Mostly a fail. I read and returned two, am currently reading two, have started two others, and have two unopened by the side of my bed. I’m not sure what happened to number 9 and hope I returned it as I can’t remember doing so.

  1. Edit the first 3 chapters (approx 8k-words) of my book post-pitch.

Partially met and yet the task has grown to the first third of the book.

I’ve written a new Ch1, edited the original Ch1 into Ch2. Ch5 has become Ch3, which pushes the original Ch3 and Ch4 to positions 4 and 5 and I’m not sure they work there. This is very much still a work in progress, and I’m also having to adapt Ch7 to make this all hang together.

  1. Get a 1000-word ‘Christmas’ story ready for my writers’ group on 12th.

Yes, I managed it, and then the meeting on 12th Dec was cancelled because of bad weather. We read our stories to each other this month (9th Jan) instead. The group liked my character, could relate to the frustrations I described, and said my story flowed well. As I told them, in terms of constructive criticism, they were useless.

  1. Participate in one Friday Fictioneers’ challenge – I’ve missed the last two.

Success, I managed to complete two.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

January 10, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Pitch Feedback – #amwriting, well I was

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Awake in the middle of the night last week, having tossed and turned for one hour, read for another, and still nowhere near dropping off, I asked myself, what would I do if I had a week to live. The first thing that popped into my mind was that I would contact the agent to whom I pitched three weeks ago to let her know my revised manuscript would not be arriving in her inbox. This was a surprise to me. Is this really the most important thing I would need to do during my last days? Probably not, but the thought did spur me into action. Since my pitch meeting on 27th November I have been thinking about the changes the agent suggested, and attempted a few false re-starts to my manuscript. However, later on in the morning that this life-limiting thought arrived, I finally buckled down and set to work on the first five chapters of my book.

Chapter 2 has disappeared, being chopped up and pasted into Chapters 4 and 5, as Chapter 5 moves forward to the position of Chapter 2. Keeping track of all the pages and moved paragraphs has been a task, but one I’ve enjoyed as I see the start to the book reshape itself. I am yet to discover if this will result in additional changes through to the end.

The agent suggested I have started my book in the wrong place. Instead of Chapter 1 being a character looking back retrospectively on a lunch at which she hears some bad news, I need to open with that lunch and the receiving of that news. This I am still struggling with, as it was hard enough to get the first chapter written the tenth time I attempted it. Having to shift the timeframe, and add in a character’s voice I was reluctant to write in the first place, is a difficult task. I have to remember faint heart never won fair lady. Unfortunately, with the Christmas holidays almost upon us, my colleagues seem to be dropping like flies and I’m the only one who seems to be available to fill in. My work schedule has gone bonkers, and my re-started novel languishes neglected…. I’m going to have to take some time off in January!

 

Written by Sarah Ann

December 19, 2017 at 9:09 pm

Project 10K December 2017

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Plans for December? Nope. Life has gone slightly awry since the month started.

November goals:

1. Did you meet your writing/editing goals?

Yes, I completed NaNoWriMo successfully.  I wrote 50000 words and that seems to have exhausted my creative juices. I also had a successful pitch event on 27th November with a lovely agent who gave me some great suggestions on my book. Now I need to pull my finger out and make the changes she suggested before resubmission.

2. Did you have fun writing?

Yes, definitely and I want to keep on writing about my new character’s life.

3. Did the P10K help with motivation?

Yes, because posting my plans is a great way to keep me on track and accountable.

4. Anything else you want to tell us?

I don’t think anything else exciting happened in November. It was all about NaNo and the opportunity to pitch.

 

December goals:

December has started like a damp squib – any writing will be a bonus.

1. Read 9 books and get them back to the library by the end of the month.

2. Edit the first 3 chapters (approx 8k-words) of my book post-pitch.

3. Get a 1000-word ‘Christmas’ story ready for my writers’ group on 12th.

4. Participate in one Friday Fictioneers’ challenge – I’ve missed the last two.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

December 9, 2017 at 10:30 pm

#NaNoWriMo – getting there – #amwriting

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NaNoWriMo was progressing well, slowly but surely. It is good to have a word counter that also gives percentages. By the end of day two, I had written 3800 words, which I was reliably informed was 8% of the target, and this gave me hope. Strange the effect percentages can have compared to raw numbers.

The words were flowing freely, but that might be because I am writing a stream of consciousness novel, in the present tense. I wondered if I might get stuck with nothing to say mid-month. I didn’t, and haven’t now I’m nearing the finish, but on day 9, I went back to the beginning. My story had gone off-track; I was venting about my stuff rather than discussing what my character needed to say.

I lost a couple of ‘home alone’ days late in the month as they were filled with other stuff or hubby’s appointments were cancelled. This meant I needed to work harder at the front end of the month. All good in theory, but on 6th Nov I received an email inviting me to pitch my existing novel on 27th. So I had a new priority, learning how to pitch a novel and getting the pitch word perfect. My NaNoWriMo word count fell behind and I have consistently remained about two days behind where I need to be. I worked on my pitch, which got me back into my novel, but the structure of the pitch was superfluous in terms of the lovely informal chat I had yesterday. I am still unsure if I am able to summarise my novel in an enticing way given that Broo Doherty had read my synopsis and first three chapters and had lots of useful advice on how to take the work forward.

The good thing with this year’s NaNWriMo has been that, as I get the bare bones down, I can see where I need to go back and pad out with muscle. As this story takes place in one day, with flashbacks telling the reader how my protagonist came to be standing on the edge of a cliff, there is going to be a lot of cutting and pasting to make a coherent narrative. Character back-stories will need to be developed and incorporated on a third or fifth draft, but I am hopeful I am making notes of these requirements as I go. This is a development from my previous NaNoWriMo attempt in 2014, which was put away and only resurrected relatively recently. As I read through it last month, I noticed the holes and found a whole load of other stuff that needs explaining more fully, as well as characters I’m not sure are needed. Hopefully by the end of this month I will have 50000-words and maybe another 1000-words or more of questions to answer/ research to do to make the story consistent, which is more than I managed last time. I am only just identifying the jobs needed to sort out my 2014 efforts. At 42000-words or thereabouts this time, and with only two-days until the finish, I might not ‘win’ this year, but at least I took part and wrote a story that didn’t exist a month ago.

Written by Sarah Ann

November 28, 2017 at 9:09 pm

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