Sarah Ann Hall

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

Posts Tagged ‘progress

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

#amwriting – Agents, here I come.

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My novel to pitch is now with eight agents. While I hoped this would take a day, it took two, as submissions were adjusted to meet agency specific requirements. Some require a query letter instead of a cover letter and synopsis. Most want the first three chapters as attachments, although one preferred the first chapter pasted into the body of an email. And there are agents who want submissions via hardcopy only, which I will approach once I have a new toner cartridge for my printer.

I realise submitting to agents should be an ongoing process until I find representation. However, it has been an energy-sapping couple of days and I am looking forward to writing again without strictures.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: edit and write short stories based on friend’s picture prompts; prepare more agent submissions.

Ongoing projects successfully met: novel has been submitted; Friday Fictioneer stories have been posted regularly; piano practice has taken place; crochet projects have been completed.

Ongoing projects partially met: blog posts about writing and progress have been sporadic; blog reading is improving.

Ongoing project fails: learning Italian has taken a back seat.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

April 22, 2017 at 11:35 am

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

Work Life Writing Balance

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My current job, while part-time, takes place over four days. The one contact-free day, Tuesday, I am usually writing up reports from the previous day. For this post I drew up a schedule of my week to see how my work hours fit in with everything else. This has helped me realise why my writing has been suffering – I don’t have free time of any length to write.

Hubby and I are trying to work the same hours so that time home together is just that, spent together and not with either one of us with our eyes glued to a screen. Weekends also need to be down time, as his job is emotionally demanding. Having spent many years self-employed in the same business, we are used to spending all our time together. Our more recent foray into working for others, and the need to sometimes work from home, has caused sniping and arguments, so we’ve set boundaries – no work at the weekend. If we both agree to do some work at the weekend then fine, but otherwise it’s verboten. Just as much as his client logging and statistical reports, my writing, work-related or creative, distances us from each other, and what’s the point of being in the same room if either of you is not present?

My work rota is drawn up a month in advance and so far I am scheduled to do the same hours in May as in April and March. At the moment, I am resolved to try to use the evenings of Monday and Wednesday, when hubby is out with clients, to complete my reports from the same day. However, to have a whole day free, as I did yesterday thanks to cancelled appointments on Monday, was bliss, and I made the most of it by working on my novel synopsis and covering letter, doing some blog-reading, and emailing writer colleagues. I have therefore decided to monitor my writing progress during April to decide whether I need to ask for a change in hours/days worked to get a completely work-free day so I can write creatively.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: finalise covering letter and synopsis and submit to agent; work on short stories; review priorities for the year in light of current progress.

Ongoing projects successfully met: I’m managing to blog regularly, but it’s still early days; I have contributed to Friday Fictioneers; I’ve crocheted three eggs for Easter presents.

Ongoing projects partially met: I fell across a short story competition on Monday needing an entry by this Friday and I’m 1800-words in. It won’t be ready in time, but it had a theme and I forced myself to write to it. That’s what can happen when I have a completely free day.

Ongoing project fails; I’ve done no piano or Italian practise; having looked briefly at the boating diaries I planned to self-publish, I think this might be a project too far as they need more work than I’m prepared to commit at the moment.

Written by Sarah Ann

March 29, 2017 at 8:55 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

It’s a Pitch

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After two days of pacing a friend’s kitchen reading my manuscript aloud, I have decided that it is good enough for me to send off to seek agent representation. My friend is away and I’ve been house sitting. The neighbours hearing me repetitively tread bare floorboards, and a constant chatter in an otherwise empty house, must think I’m mad.

It is two years since I completed the last draft. The time gap allowed me to read without knowing what every next line would be. I even read sentences and sections I don’t remember writing, which was gratifying. Thirty pages in, I was pleasantly surprised and decided the book was good enough to go.

Reading out loud enabled me to find the missing words and letters, the sentences cut off during the previous edit, and missing punctuation. However, even with this slower, more careful pace, there were still typos and the odd missing word when I ran a final spell and grammar check after I made my current edits, all of which were minor and mostly word or flow related. I wonder if I will be ever rid of the need to tweak, but feel the book is ready for a professional edit. I lack confidence in the starts to my chapters; the ends are better and have a neatness or hook that pulls the reader on. I still have difficulty describing the plot succinctly, but there is a story with characters who are different from one another, and dialogue that flows and sounds real. I now have to write a synopsis in order to be able to get someone other than friends, family and fellow writers to read it. There is a synopsis based on the previous draft but at the moment I plan to start afresh and then compare with what went before to see how my approach and what each version says might differ. Tomorrow I will start the process of summarising 84000-words on one side of A4.

 

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

Ongoing projects successfully met: I have blogged only a week and a day after my last post; I have crocheted 3 Easter eggs, although my other half says they look nothing like real ones. I can only say I followed the pattern.

Ongoing projects partially addressed: short stories have been considered and the odd word written; I have started to read my old boating diary project.

Fails (as before): blog reading is too low; Italian practise is non-existent; the piano is dustier.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

March 16, 2017 at 11:06 pm

Priorities met, almost

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Of the three priorities I set myself in my last post, there are two successes and one fail:

I have married the first and second halves of my competition story and submitted it.

I am not sure of its worth, but I never am. I emailed it to two writer friends asking for their opinions, and I let it sit for a few days before I read it again. Unfortunately, neither of my friends was able to get back before the deadline, and I was still tweaking the fourth time I read it aloud just before hitting the send button. It’s not ready and won’t get anywhere, but it has shown me I can get things done with enough forward planning.

I have written more of my story based on a picture of men sitting on a bench.

I have changed the tense – past to present – to increase the energy in the story. I now need to add in more emotion and feeling, as well as doing some research on Ukrainian food, which features as a comfort for my protagonist. The story is currently 1000-words and might increase to 1500. At the moment it is possibly more a vignette than a story: it starts in the middle, goes back to the beginning, and the ends with the characters about to live a new life that the reader has to imagine. I’m not sure this is enough of an ending. I’ve left the story alone for a week so it’s time I looked at it again.

X

I haven’t blogged my progress until now. I had drafted a post to put up a week ago, but life intervened and this is my first free time in a while. I wonder if I should give myself deadlines for posting in order for me to keep them regular.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: work on men-on-bench story and get it ready to show colleague on 25th Feb; get into a routine of blog reading and writing.

Ongoing projects successfully met: my crochet learning has been facilitated by some very long car drives and my understanding of patterns improved. I should be making things soon.

Fails: both piano practice and Italian study have been neglected; blog reading has not increased enough.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

February 15, 2017 at 9:12 pm

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