Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

Posts Tagged ‘novel

Too organised – #amwriting

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It is time again to review my writing progress for the year. This is proving a really useful process for me as I see priorities change and move. Some of the goals from the beginning of the year have been discarded, others partially met, and the easy ones at the top of the list have been mostly achieved. Having a human accountability partner didn’t quite work out but, by blogging what I intend, I am keeping myself on task.

This week I have been looking back through old short stories, to see what could be deleted from my hard drive, and what might be adapted for submission. This has resulted in a story being submitted to a publisher looking for supernatural stories. I don’t think mine will hit the mark at all, but the process of trawling through old works was not completely wasted. It was good to see how my writing has developed over the years, and how tired and plodding stories have been adapted to be punchier. Coming up with new ideas is good, recycling old ones sometimes helpful.

Going through my hard drive also reminded me that, a long time ago, I had planned to self-publish some of the flash fiction from my blog. I saw how much work I had done on collecting these stories together and collating them into themes. Laying them out correctly on the page is a laborious process, and one that can be done with half an eye on the TV rather than stealing from precious ‘alone’ writing time. This forgotten project has, for the time being at least, been added to the list of the year’s tasks, albeit one to complete by Christmas.

August is earmarked for home re-decoration and writing will be sparse. With this in mind I have reduced my availability to work during July in order to have one full day free to write, and hopefully complete some projects before a month of physical hard labour. Thursday mornings will be taken up with completing work reports from Wednesday, and then I will have an afternoon and all day Friday to get on with short stories and editing the back end of my out-with-agents novel.

 

Task & original priority position – re-ordered June 2017 Ease of completion Progress 6 weeks later (end of Feb) Progress April Progress end of June
1. Keep up with blog Variable on time allowing/ having anything to say.

Hopefully on the easy side.

 

Not great. I’ve not posted as often as I would have liked. I’m doing better, but I might be running out of things to say already. I post at least once a week, but could be more regular with writing updates.
2. Read 85k word novel and decide whether to pitch or ditch.

Easy and relatively quick if I decide to ditch. Time commitment if I’m going to pitch and it needs editing. Time commitment if start sending to agents.

I have allocated the week of 13-17th March to do the read through. I’m away from home and will have the head space. Done – it’s a pitch. Sent to an agency’s open pitch process.I need to go back to a list of agents to approach I drew up 12 or more months ago and submit to others.

Deadline to have made other submissions: end of April 17, and ongoing.

 

Deadline met.

Sent to eight agents – a ‘near miss’ for one. Chs. 1-3 have been re-edited and are ready to resubmit. Deadline for resubmission: mid-July because of people taking the summer off.

8. Friday Fictioneer stories Easy to do if have nothing else on. Requires time and concentration. Can be addictive so need to limit or will get caught up and carried away to the detriment of other things. No progress.

I wrote a story to one prompt, which I was pleased to have achieved, but didn’t manage to post it.

I have managed to write and post a 100-word story two weeks running. It’s a bit early to say I’ve succeeded with this priority, but it has been met earlier than expected.

 

I have responded to most prompts and gained some encouraging feedback on my stories.
4. Write short stories to go with friend Jan’s paintings/ prints/ illustrations. Relatively easy if I come up with any ideas. Enjoyable. Able to do between other things as shorter time commitment. I have drafted one short story and am looking at the other pictures chosen. I need to re-visit the project with Jan to see if she wants to paint to my words. These stories are progressing slowly. There is a lot of research and re-drafting to be done. Need to determine number of stories to write and liaise with Jan on how to take forward.

Deadline to complete stories: end of summer.

 

Ongoing. One story is finished. I have done research for others. One is only just started. Deadline for completion will be missed.
7. Short stories for competitions Quite hard. Time commitment to look for competitions and then write themed stories to deadlines.

 

One short story submitted. No other competitions identified to enter. I have written another short story to a prompt and submitted it. This is something ongoing that I will fit in as time and interest allows.

 

I came runner-up for my one entry so have continued looking for competitions to enter.

Two more submissions made.

9. NEW ENTRY

Self-publish flashes and short stories.

Time-consuming but can be dipped in and out of. An organising project and learning experience, e.g. about self-publishing platforms. Takes less brainpower than writing.

 

Stories are collated. Laying out pages to be completed. Cover design needed. Self-publishing platforms to be researched.

Deadline: December 2017.

4 NANOWRIMO story from 2014. Work up 51k words into a novel. Medium. Big time commitment. Hopefully enjoyable to do. No progress No progress. I want to work on this story as I want to get back to the characters.

Deadline to have started second draft: end of summer.

 

No progress – this is off my radar.

New deadline to start second draft: before the end of the year.

3. Edit diaries of living and travelling on a narrow boat and self-publish. Hard. A lot of editing and additional writing to be done. Self-publishing is new. Large time commitment and learning new skill.

 

No progress There is too much work required to get this to a state suitable for publication. The narration needs to be completely re-written.

 

2018?
4. Continue with novel-length abuse story started 2014. Medium. Need time and space to pick this up again. Has a beginning but needs a middle and an end.

 

No progress No progress.  This is a project too far for 2017. 2019 maybe
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Written by Sarah Ann

June 28, 2017 at 11:26 am

Slow progress – #amwriting

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Any writing progress is satisfying at the moment as work chops and changes and makes planning difficult. Writing on two fronts, as the mood takes me, I am focussing on the short stories I am writing to the prompts of a friend’s pictures and my has-been-going-on-forever novel.

The short story I wrote during a train journey in March, about a dancer turned boxer, has finally been re-read and lots of holes found. There is a story, but I have yet to work out how much background needs to be included and how much can be left to the reader’s imagination. There is a lot more work to be done, but the story has been looked at again so it is fresh and hopefully the hole-filling will be completed soon.

Chapters 1-3 of the novel have been re-read, scribbled over, the changes typed in, and the chapters read once again, slowly and aloud. I know I’ve said this before, but I think they are ready to go. Moving Chapter 4 to the position of Chapter 3 has made the start of the story less repetitive, given voice to a new character, and maybe even introduced a small hook. On my list of jobs to do, I have to compile a writing CV for one agent – it will be short – and then, after another read through, I think chapters 1-3 will be ready to send into the world again. So that’s next week’s job, assuming the work that currently pays my wages doesn’t want me to provide cover on the days I plan to write.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: write a writing CV; submit novel to agents; continue reading novel from chapter 4 to make sure changes follow through and there are no typos!

Ongoing projects successfully met: chapters 1-3 of novel had been read, edited, and are ready to go; a short story has been edited and work to be done identified. (I need to count the small things!)

Ongoing projects partially met: I am crocheting a scarf and have completed five repetitions of an 8-row pattern – only 32-repetitions to go before the thing is finished.

Fails: I have done no Italian or piano practise.

Written by Sarah Ann

June 14, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Slotting it in – #amwriting

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With clients moving on I thought I’d fill my time with writing. However, new clients have arrived and time home alone to write has reduced. My one free day a week is now Thursday, during which the morning is taken up with work-related report writing.

In order to make sure I do write, I am carrying around hard copies of short stories in progress. On Monday, in the 10-minutes I had between clients, I edited 600-words of a still very rough, but complete, short story. I was able to do the same at lunchtime today. And this morning, I started this blog post before work, planning to get down the bare bones before posting this evening. Squeezing it in, using tiny snippets of time to write, is working… so far.

Last week, on my day at home, I read through chapters 1-3 of my out-with-agents novel and decided Chapter 1 needs re-ordering. There is too much introspection and not enough grab. I think I might also swap Chapters 3 and 4. I like Chapter 4. It introduces a new and loveable character that agents might prefer to the one who arrives in Chapter 3. Because the chapters follow a detailed timeline, I have yet to work out how much work re-ordering might take, and that’s tomorrow’s job, when I have the afternoon free to play.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: re-order/ tighten first chapters of novel; re-edit short stories.

Ongoing projects successfully met: chapters 1-3 of novel were read and found wanting.

Ongoing projects partially met: two short stories have been edited; my online Italian course has been accessed once more, even if not much learning has occurred; crochet progresses, I’m looking for new stitches to try.

Ongoing project fails: the piano gathers dust.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

May 17, 2017 at 10:47 pm

Priorities updated

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As days and weeks have progressed, my priorities listed in February have changed. Since setting them out, I have met Priority 1 by continuing to blog relatively regularly. Priority 8, contributing to Friday Fictioneers, has moved up; Priority 3, self-publishing my narrow boat diaries, has shot down the list. I read the opening paragraph only to decide there is far too much work to be done.

When I first started to plan this post, I was moving short stories and writing to a prompt and a deadline into last place, as if detracts from other self imposed tasks. However, the week after I thought that, I was pootling online when I found a free to enter competition and, within four days, wrote 1700 words of a story with a loose theme of getting a loan. I’m sure it wasn’t ready or good enough, but I worked to a deadline, showing me I sometimes can. I have also set deadlines, albeit loose ones, for some of my ongoing priorities.

Herewith, updated priorities list:

 

Task & original priority position – re-ordered April 2017   Ease of completion   Progress 6 weeks later (end of Feb)   Progress another month later (first week April)
             
1. Keep up with blog   Variable on time allowing/ having anything to say. Hopefully on the easy side.   Not great. I’ve not posted as often as I would have liked.   I’m doing better, but I might be running out of things to say already.
             
2. Read 85k word novel and decide whether to pitch or ditch.    

 

Easy and relatively quick if I decide to ditch.

Time commitment if I’m going to pitch and it needs editing.

Time commitment if start sending to agents.

  I have allocated the week of 13-17th March to do the read through. I’m away from home and will have the head space.    

 

Done – it’s a pitch.

Sent to an agency’s open pitch process.

I need to go back to a list of agents to approach I drew up 12 or more months ago and submit to others.

Deadline to have made other submissions: end of April 17, and ongoing.

             
8. Friday Fictioneer stories    

 

Easy to do if have nothing else on. Requires time and concentration. Can be addictive so need to limit or will get caught up and carried away to the detriment of other things.

   

No progress.

I wrote a story to one prompt, which I was pleased to have achieved, but didn’t manage to post it.

   

I have managed to write and post a 100-word story two weeks running.

It’s a bit early to say I’ve succeeded with this priority, but it has been met earlier than expected.

             
4. Write short stories to go with friend Jan’s paintings/ prints/ illustrations.

 

  Relatively easy if I come up with any ideas. Enjoyable. Able to do between other things as shorter time commitment.   I have drafted one short story and am looking at the other pictures chosen. I need to re-visit the project with Jan to see if she wants to paint to my words.   These stories are progressing slowly. There is a lot of research and re-drafting to be done.

Need to determine number of stories to write and liaise with Jan on how to take forward.

Deadline to complete stories: end of summer.

             
4 NANOWRIMO story from 2014. Work up 51k words into a novel.   Medium. Big time commitment. Hopefully enjoyable to do.   No progress    

No progress.

I want to work on this story as I want to get back to the characters.

Deadline to have started second draft: end of summer.

             
7. Short stories for competitions   Quite hard. Time commitment to look for competitions and then write themed stories to deadlines.   One short story submitted. No other competitions identified to enter.    

I have written another short story to a prompt and submitted it.

This is something ongoing that I will fit in as time and interest allows.

             
3. Edit diaries of living and travelling on a narrow boat and self-publish.    

Hard. A lot of editing and additional writing to be done. Self-publishing is new. Large time commitment and learning new skill.

  No progress   There is too much work required to get this to a state suitable for publication. The narration needs to be completely re-written.
             
 

4. Continue with novel-length abuse story started 2014.

 

  Medium. Need time and space to pick this up again. Has a beginning but needs a middle and an end.   No progress   No progress.

This is a project too far for 2017.

Written by Sarah Ann

April 6, 2017 at 7:08 pm

I am not a plotter

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Last week, while house-sitting for a friend, I had the opportunity to write/ edit unhindered without feeling any guilt at closeting myself away or needing a quiet space. I did not read much of the reading book I had taken with me as, once my brain was back in the writing groove, I didn’t want anyone else’s thoughts in my head for fear of contamination.

On the train journey home I didn’t want to read either, so forced myself to concentrate on a short story prompt. I had a picture of a hare to work with. This has been on my list of jobs to do since the start of the year, if not before. I have thought about it a number of times, and even written down a few trigger words, but got no further. Sitting on the train there were no distractions and I made myself think about hares – boxing, spring, new beginnings. A female character emerged recovering from a broken relationship – boring. I looked out the window at passing countryside – green emerging from brown gave me new beginnings again. The weather was overcast and yielded no inspiration. What else had I spent the previous week doing? I’d looked after a child and made some enquiries about dance classes. My character became a child dancer. I zeroed in on the boxing hare. My child dancer became male, one who had had prospects, but no longer. He was taking up boxing instead. Why?

As you can see, I am not a plotter and my story grew as ideas changed through the initial scribble: uninterested parents became loving ones; the father developed a job as a risk assessor in order to be fanatical about insuring everything. After an hour, and my first change of train, I estimate I had written 700-words of a story needing lots of work, as well as research about ballet. Once redrafted the story might still be full of holes, but it doesn’t matter because, with notebook and pen, I wrote a story. It has a beginning – a boy in hospital; a middle – how he got there; and an end – what he’s going to do next. I was happy to have achieved my hole-ridden story because I’m good at filling holes and by the eighth draft they will be.

Train journeys being what they can be, I also wrote two blog posts, including this one, and a haiku, before picking up my reading book and finally allowing my writing brain to relax.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: re-draft synopsis of novel and submit; work on short stories.

Ongoing projects successfully met: I have blogged a week after my last post; I have drafted my novel synopsis and edited it once; I have written a new short story.

Fails (as before): blog reading is too low; Italian’s make great pasta; what’s a piano?

 

Written by Sarah Ann

March 22, 2017 at 9:08 pm

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